East and Horn of Africa Labour Ministers Meet to Discuss Protection of Migrant Workers from the Region

Nairobi - Labour Ministers from 11 countries across East and Horn of Africa, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, Burundi, Djibouti, Rwanda, Uganda, and Eritrea are in meeting in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the protection of migrant workers, harmonizing labour laws in the region, and how to capitalise on migration to promote sustainable development in the region: at the 3rd Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM). 

The RMFM is an inter-state information-sharing and policy dialogue forum for countries in the region to discuss and agree on labour migration governance and harness the benefits of labour mobility in the region and was established in 2020. 

There are over 7.7 migrant workers in East and Horn of Africa. Some migrants seek to travel abroad to find work primarily as domestic workers in Gulf nations, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many travel irregularly and are therefore often exposed to discrimination and xenophobia and other forms of exploitation during their migration. They may lack access to employment rights, medical care, insurance and other social benefits open to nationals. At the same time, there are over 21 million African migrants— traveling to and working in each other’s countries filling skills and labour shortages, engaging in business, trade and providing goods and services, and sending remittances back home. Migrant workers from Sub Saharan Africa sent back an estimated USD45 billion in remittances in 2021. 

There have been significant efforts by governments in partnership with IOM to address protection issues and at the same time enhance clear benefits of managed migration in the region for development through increased mobility. The East African Common Market Protocol (under the auspices of the East African Community) has made it easier for migrants and people from the region to move and work across borders by promoting the free movement of persons and services. The Free Movement and Transhumance Protocol agreed in June 2021 is also accelerating internal migration in the region by promoting regulated labour mobility and access to decent work within the IGAD region. 
“While significant efforts have been made in the region to facilitate intra and inter-regional mobility, a lot more collective effort is critically needed at the continental, regional and national-levels to harness the full potential of human mobility for the socio-economic development of East and Horn of Africa,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa.  

At the 3rd RMFM, which is supported by IGAD, the trade bloc covering 7 states, the East African Community, which is comprising of 6 partner states, Ministers are expected to commit to ensuring that the region stands as a united block committed to providing adequate protection to migrant workers and their families to advance the aims of the forum. This follows agreements in 2020 during which partner states agreed to promote regional common approaches and social dialogue in the formulation and implementation of evidence-based, human rights and gender-sensitive harmonized labour migration policies therefore establishing the forum. 

If agreements are reached at the RMFM, it is expected that governments in the region will jointly address labour migration policies, foster labour mobility and protect the fundamental human, labour, and social rights of migrant workers migrating within and from the continent. 

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact IOM RO Media & Communication Unit at  or Yvonne Ndege, Regional Communications and Spokesperson, East and Horn of Africa on   / Phone:  +254797735977. 

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