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 took place in Nairobi, Kenya in late 2022. Tens of thousands of migrants, including children, receive lifesaving assistance including water, food, medical assistance, and mental health and psychosocial support, in 12 MRCs in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan, along key migration routes in the region. The support centres are ran by governments and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The workshop in Nairobi was organized to develop action plans on the protection of migrants from sexual abuse and exploitation and raise greater awareness   about the issue among staff working in MRCs and migrants themselves. A total of 26 staff members working in MRCs and government officials in the region attended.
IOM deploys significant efforts towards protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. 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. 

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 and provide support to migrants who have experienced abuse. The plans were developed to align with country specific PSEA strategies and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) National Actions Plans.
In addition, in early 2022 the IOM Regional Office for East & Horn of Africa in Nairobi developed Regional MRC PSEA Guidelines for 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 were trained to deliver PSEA training to key partners, establish and raise awareness on reporting mechanisms, and receive PSEA reports that follow a survivor-centred approach, and strengthen 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,” said Laura Boucsein, IOM East & Horn of Africa, Regional MRC Coordinator.
IOM is planning 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 and Reintegration.
For more information contact: Laura Boucsein, Regional MRC Coordinator, lboucsein@iom.int

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration is the first comprehensive programme to save lives, protect and assist migrants along key routes in Africa. The programme enables migrants who decide to return to their countries of origin to do so in a safe and dignified way, in full respect of international human rights standards and in particular the principle of non-refoulement. This is done through an integrated approach to reintegration that supports both migrants and their communities and addresses the economic, social, and psychosocial dimensions of reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative covers and closely cooperates with 26 African countries in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and Lake Chad, and North Africa. In the Horn of Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is implemented in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. 
The Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen is a multi-stakeholder, multi-year and multi-country coordination framework bringing together governments, the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as well as international and national NGOs in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen to strengthen humanitarian and protection assistance to migrants in vulnerable situations; support durable and development-oriented approaches to return, sustainable reintegration and community stabilization; strengthen protection of migrants by building the capacities of Governments; and strengthen partnership and collaboration around evidence-based analysis of drivers of migration needs and trends of migration along this route.