IOM in Shelter

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has played a major role in humanitarian shelter operations for many decades. IOM’s unique position as an intergovernmental organization allows it to work at scale in both natural disasters and conflict/complex contexts. IOM works in both operations and coordination, and plays a strong role working with partners in support of national authorities. IOM’s overall objectives are (1) to focus on quality and scale of operations, (2) to be people-centred and context driven, (3) to continue supporting interagency shelter coordination, (4) to support sectoral learning and identification of best practices, and (3) to maintain a longer term view. For more on IOMs approach to shelter see the emergency manual (https://emergencymanual.iom.int/).


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Over the course of 2018, IOM’s Shelter and Non-Food Item (NFI) programmes reached over 4.1   million crisis-affected individuals across 44 countries, reaching over 670,000 households.   Out of the total people assisted by IOM in 2018, about 3 million people were reached in contexts where a shelter and NFI cluster was formally activated, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the overall number of people assisted within the formally activated shelter and NFI clusters globally. Core NFI assistance reached more than 460,000 households and88,000 households benefited from cash-based interventions for shelter. A further 25,000 families were provided with or supported to build shelters,  84,900 shelters were repaired and 67,000 individuals received shelter trainings. 


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IOM continues to maintain a strong role in support of the Global Shelter Cluster and operational shelter coordination. In 2018, over half of IOM’s shelter and NFI support reached three affected populations; in the South Sudan crisis, the Iraq conflict and the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh. An additional 30 per cent of the total people reached were in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Nigeria and Sudan. IOM had a significant coordination role in 24 shelter country coordination mechanisms – ranging from national leadership in shelter cluster coordination to subnational coordination or technical and information management support roles. Globally, IOM is a key player in the Strategic Advisory Group within the Global Shelter Cluster, leads the Shelter Projects (www.shelterprojects.org) Working Group and co-lead the GBV in Shelter Programming (www.sheltercluster.org/gbv) and the Disability Inclusion Working Groups.

The Role of Shelter in IOM

During the 101st session of the IOM Council, IOM's 149 Member States adopted the Migration Crisis Operational Framework (MCOF), a framework which highlights Shelter and NFI response as a core component of this framework. 

IOM’s Shelter responses are defined after conducting needs assessments of the affected populations. As a result, following a crises, IOM implements a variety of different shelter and NFI programmes that cover all response phases in both conflicts and natural disaster affected countries. There is a diverse range of operations and forms of support that take place. Shelter programmes are not only limited to construction and distribution. 

Shelter Activities in recent years included: 

  • Stockpiling and preparedness; 
  • Distribution, NFI and shelter supply chain and logistics; 
  • Common pipeline management 
  • Shelter construction, repair and winterization; 
  • Shelter recovery support and training; 
  • Rental support; 
  • Site planning support and upgrade; 
  • Shelter coordination; 
  • Preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction. 

To learn more about IOM shelter and NFI activities, as well as other areas of humanitarian assistance, please visit the Operations section of IOM’s Emergency Operations Manual.

*Click here to access the latest IOM Shelter Update.