IOM initiated operations in the East and Horn of Africa in 1984 and established its first office in Kenya in 1993. The IOM Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya, coordinates IOM activities in 10 countries, namely, Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

In close collaboration with partners and Members States in the region, IOM plays an important role of protecting, assisting and supporting migrants across the region, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration, and serving as a key source of advice on migration policy, research, data and practice. IOM is doing this by working more strategically with its Member States, the African Union and the regional economic communities (RECs) such as Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the East African Community (EAC), including by supporting key strategic priorities as defined in national development plans and regional and continental frameworks. In the region, IOM has a Special Liaison Office in Addis Ababa which cooperates closely with continental and regional organization such as the African Union (AU), Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in shaping discourse and policy development on migration in Africa.

IOM has been implementing programmes around operations and emergencies, migrant protection and assistance, labour migration, immigration and border management, migration health and migration, environment and climate change.

Home to an estimated 322 million people, migration in the region is still triggered by a combination of persistent insecurity and conflict, harsh climatic conditions, public heath emergencies alongside socio-economic drivers and more traditional seasonal and livelihood factors. The East and Horn of Africa region is home to over six million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and more than three million refugees and asylum-seekers.