IOM Regional Office Launches COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for East and Horn of Africa 

Infection prevention and control (taking temperature) of refugees as part of 'fit to travel’ medical screening for voluntary repatriation to Burundi. Photo: IOM

IOM team assesses water points of entry between Tanzania and DRC. Photo: IOM 

Community meeting in Kismayo, Somalia. Photo: IOM 

Nairobi – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), Regional Office for the East and Horn of Africa has launched a Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan COVID-19 appeal for USD 71.6 million to help millions of migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region confront the COVID-19 global public health emergency.  

Border closures, lockdowns and curfews, and an economic freeze in the region has left millions of people stranded, vulnerable and facing an uncertain future. Migrant workers are losing their jobs, their only means of economic survival, and facing stigma and xenophobia because foreigners are seen as bearers of the disease.  

Serious obstacles to accessing health and medical care are being laid bare, and the poorest and most vulnerable families dependent on remittances are facing potential hardship as breadwinners abroad lose their jobs.  

The Regional Office’s COVID-19 preparedness and response activities are well underway.   

  • In Ethiopia, IOM is providing food and accommodation to nearly 3,000 migrants who have returned from different locations due to the pandemic.   
  • In Kenya, 35 medical personnel have been deployed to support the Government in 10 national quarantine centres.   
  • In Tanzania, medical doctors, logisticians and human resource personnel are supporting the authorities with case management.   
  • In Somalia, IOM is assisting with the procurement of screening and personal protective equipment for health and immigration officials.   
  • In Burundi and Eritrea, capacity building of health staff and immigration officials in border areas is ongoing.   
  • In Ethiopia and Rwanda, toolkits and information materials are being distributed, including for border communities at points of entry.   
  • In Uganda, Rwanda, and Djibouti training in hospitals and medical centres in migrant-dense areas is in place.   

As the lead agency for camp coordination and camp management, IOM is also extending water, sanitation, hygiene and health services to displaced persons in South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia to reduce the probability of COVID-19 reaching some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.   

And, in response to government requests across the region, IOM is  preparing to support COVID-19 testing.  

Public health bodies including the World Health Organization have expressed concern that COVID-19 may escalate, modelling the epi curve of other regions. The impact on the East and Horn of Africa is expected to be far reaching and more catastrophic than in high income countries given the poor status of health systems and health workforce.  

IOM is strategically positioned to assist due its expertise and leadership in humanitarian response, cross border co-ordination, capacity building for government staff, enhancing sanitation facilities at border crossings and entry points. Support with case management, monitoring and mapping of people’s movements within and across borders, and work in displacement sites.   

It is against this background that IOM’s, Regional Office, East & Horn of Africa is appealing for more funds for its strategic support programmes to mitigate the impact of the disease.  

“The COVID-19 outbreak is a serious public health problem. It is acutely worse for migrants in this region who depend so heavily on being able to migrate for work to survive and support their families. The closure of air, land and sea borders is also of huge concern because so many migrants and local communities depend on being able to move freely between porous borders in the region, said  IOM Regional Director Mohammed Abdiker. 

He added, “Health care systems are inadequate to handle a mass outbreak, including among displaced populations. This appeal seeks to prepare for the expected surge in cases and mitigate or reduce the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading.” 

The funds will be used to meet the humanitarian needs of migrants and IDPs in the region, enhance disease surveillance, improve prevention by constructing handwashing facilities, enhance cross-border coordination, build the capacity of government staff to deal with the pandemic, monitor and map movements of people in the region and disseminate information on how to prevent COVID-19, targeting migrants, refugees and displaced persons.   

IOM is the global lead of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) humanitarian cluster and, with more than 430 offices and 14,000 staff members across the world – including thousands working specifically on health and community engagement – IOM uniquely placed to provide support in international public health emergencies.   

Since January, the Organization has assisted Governments with COVID-19 preparedness and response. Recognizing the evolving nature of the crisis and appeal is aligned with and expands on IOM’s  Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.  

Link to the Regional Strategic and Preparedness and Response Plan   

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond. The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve, and new situations emerge.   

For funding and partner enquiries, please contact Julia Hill-Mlati:, Mobile: +254 729 846 749  

For media and publicity enquiries, please contact Yvonne Ndege;, Mobile: +254797735977