IOM Trains Health Providers to Care for Victims of Trafficking, Migrants in Vulnerable Situations

Capacity Building, Migration Health

Nairobi – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, under the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa, conducted a five-day Training of Trainers for health care providers. The training, which focused on care for victims of trafficking and mental health considerations for migrants in vulnerable situations, ran from 10 to 14 September 2018.

The training was designed to help participants understand and care for trafficked persons, and to better manage mental health conditions for migrants in vulnerable situations. It brought together representatives from the Ministries of Health, as well as professionals working to provide protection services in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. After the workshop, participants are expected to roll out this training in their places of work with the support of IOM staff in the respective countries.

Migrants’ journeys on the Western-Northern, Eastern and Southern routes out of Africa are difficult and often dangerous. Often, migrants travel on foot for hundreds of kilometres through dangerous territories and at the mercy of smuggler networks; they are faced with challenges such as lack of access to basic needs, extortion, discrimination, psychological, physical and sexual abuse and even death.

Throughout the years, IOM has supported various activities in the East and Horn of Africa region to assist vulnerable migrants and victims of trafficking.

Speaking at the launch of the training, Gordon Kihalangwa, the Principal Secretary in the Kenyan Ministry of Interior and Chairman of the National Coordination Mechanism commended the work of IOM, in particular under BMM. He especially praised the assistance provided to vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking.  He called on actors to address the push and pull factors for migration in the region: “You are going to meet people who have lost self-esteem, [and had] their travel documents taken away. You should not add more miseries and distress… rather try to alleviate their suffering.”

Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa, emphasized the need to give participants the right tools to understand the phenomenon of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants as well as to recognize some of the health problems associated with trafficking and migrants in vulnerable situations. He also urged them to use appropriate approaches when providing health care to trafficked persons and migrants in vulnerable situations.

The programmes, Better Migration Management and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative Programme in the Horn of Africa, aim to support the African member countries of the Khartoum Process. The BMM programme is funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Both programmes strengthen the assistance to vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and returnees, with specialised protection services in the Horn of Africa countries.

For more information please contact the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi:
Julia Hartlieb, Tel: +254 734 988 846, Email:; or Wilson Johwa, Tel:  +254 20 4221 112, Email:

  • At the end of a week-long training in psychosocial first aid for vulnerable migrants, some of the participants show their certificates. Photo: Wilson Johwa/IOM 2018