Migrant Response Centres Workshop on Protection of Migrants from Sexual Exploitation And Abuse Takes Place

Nairobi - A three-day workshop on the protection of migrants and other beneficiaries from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) in Migrant Responses Centres (MRCs), in the Horn of Africa has taken place in Nairobi, Kenya. Tens of thousands of migrants, including children, receive lifesaving assistance including water, food, medical assistance, and mental health and psychosocial support, in over 12 MRCs in operation in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan, along key migration routes in the region. The support centres are run by governments and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The workshop in Nairobi was organized to develop action plans on what can be done to protect migrants from sexual abuse and exploitation and raise greater awareness and capacity about the issue among staff working in MRCs and the migrants themselves. Over 26 staff members working in MRCs and government officials in the region attended.
Protecting migrants from sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) is a key priority for IOM because SEA constitutes a fundamental violation of human rights and a failure of the protection of migrants, who are among some of the world’s most vulnerable. Significant efforts are being made by the organization towards protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.
In November 2022, MRCs in the Horn of Africa and Yemen developed PSEA Action Plans laying out key steps needed to mainstream PSEA in MRC processes including registration, protection assessments, delivery of services and referrals to mitigate risks, safeguard migrants, prevent harm from happening and provide support if migrants have experienced abuse. The plans were developed to align with country specific PSEA strategies and the interagency national actions plans.
In addition to this in early 2022 the IOM Regional Office for East & Horn of Africa in Nairobi developed Regional MRC PSEA Guidelines, rolled out to all IOM staff and partners on mainstreaming PSEA in MRC activities and strengthening of reporting and assistance mechanisms for migrants facing abuse.  An MRC PSEA focal point network was also created, which currently meets monthly to share experiences and best practices. MRC focal points have also been trained to deliver PSEA trainings to key partners, establish and raise awareness on reporting mechanisms, and receive PSEA reports that follow a survivor-centred approach, and strengthen of specialized assistance and referral pathways for migrants.
“The development of country level MRC Action Plans is a key step in the implementation of the Regional MRC PSEA Guidelines and IOM’s zero tolerance policy. We will regularly take stock of where we stand in the implementation of the Action Plans and are very pleased about the commitment of the MRC PSEA focal points, who will be playing a fundamental role in overseeing their implementation” Laura Boucsein, IOM East & Horn of Africa, Regional MRC Coordinator.
IOM is planning further dedicated communication and outreach on PSEA including brochures and posters for the MRC context in English, Amharic, French, Somali, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Hausa, the languages most commonly spoken by migrants in the region.  These interventions are part of Strategic Priority 1 of the IOM Strategy for Migration Response Centres in the East and Horn of Africa and Yemen 2021-2024 which is to strengthen immediate and longer-term tailored direct assistance and specialized protection services to (returning) migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse.
The workshop was organized by the Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and the Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Overall more than 14,000 migrants have been assisted at the MRCs in 2022 through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection.
For more information contact: Laura Boucsein, Regional MRC Coordinator,

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