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Emergency Trust Fund for Africa
News article17 September 2018

IOM training for trainers in the Horn of Africa: teaching health professionals to better identify and aid victims of human trafficking

HoA-REG-IOM training

A young woman enters a local health clinic; her hands filled with blisters. She is accompanied by what, at first sight, seems to be a caring family member who will not leave her out of sight. While this could be an everyday situation, there is more to it than meets the eye. In reality, the young woman in this story is a victim of human trafficking, who has been coerced into silence by the person accompanying her. This is one of the scenarios presented at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) training for health providers on how to care for victims of trafficking and migrants in vulnerable situations. This training for trainers followed a two-tiered approach: firstly increasing knowledge on mental health and psychological support and then allowing participants to apply it through practical exercises, such as the one illustrated above.

The training took place between the 10th and 14th of September in Nairobi and was carried out by the IOM in Kenya under the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa. Representatives from the Ministries of Health, as well as those working in providing protection services in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, learned how to conduct protection-sensitive interviewing under the do-no-harm principle. 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.

The training taught health care providers to personalize and individualize care, especially when suspicions arise that the person might be a victim of human trafficking or migrant in a vulnerable situation. Furthermore, in line with the principle of do no harm, the health care provider should make sure not to put the person in danger or at risk, as well as to seek the patients consent before alerting authorities.

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 on Migration commended the work of IOM, in particular under BMM, especially through 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, their travel documents taken away. You should not add more miseries and distress to them rather try to alleviate their sufferings,” Kihalangwa said.

Jeffrey Labovitz, the 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 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 (BMM) 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 by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The EU-IOM Joint Initiative Programme in the Horn of Africa is funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. Both programmes strengthen the assistance to vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and returnees with specialised protection services in the Horn of Africa countries.


Publication date
17 September 2018
Region and Country
Horn of AfricaRegional Horn of Africa
Improved migration management
International Organization for Migration

Programmes in the region

Improving Nutrition and Reducing Stunting in Eastern Sudan

The action aims to enhance the ability of women and children in the States of Red Sea, Kassala and Gedaref to lead socially and economically productive lives, and in doing so strengthen their resilience and that of their communities.