Dewele (Ethiopia) – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the financial support of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, opened a new Migration Response Centre (MRC) in Dewele (Somali Regional State), next to the Ethio-Djibouti border. The inauguration ceremony was held on 7 February. Abibatou Wane, Chief of Mission of IOM Ethiopia, and Angelo Di Giorgi, Programme Officer and Migration focal person at the EU Delegation to Ethiopia, gave the opening remarks. The event was attended by H.E. Muna Ahmed, State Minister for the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs, other senior government officials, representatives from the Embassy of Germany, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland, and other dignitaries.  

The centre was constructed, upon request from the Ethiopian Government, with financial support from the EUTF, under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration programme, and the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, through the Migrant Response Plan (MRP). Other running cost of the centre are covered by contributions from the Government of Norway. The assistance provided at the MRC includes accommodation, food, water, non-food items, medical screening and assistance as well as referral to relevant partners for further assistance.

Dewele is a key crossing point frequented by irregular migrants travelling along the eastern migratory route transiting to Djibouti and aiming to cross the Red Sea into Yemen, with the Arabian Peninsula as the intended final destination. It is also a primary entry point to many Ethiopian migrant returnees including those from Yemen and Djibouti.

“With such extended movements along the Eastern Migration Route and corresponding vulnerabilities and protection concerns, facilities such as the MRC in Dewele will play a significant role in providing and extending basic and urgent protection services as well as lifesaving humanitarian assistance to migrants in vulnerable situation”, said Ms Abibatou Wane, Chief of Mission of IOM Ethiopia.

Migrants are easily exposed to danger while navigating through this route. Many experience dehydration, with mild to severe medical needs that require medical attention.

Most migrants who have decided to stop their journey were not aware of the risks of the journey; only 10 per cent of them were aware of the scarcity of water and food, 24 per cent of the war in Yemen and 45 per cent of the boat leg/crossing, according to an IOM survey.

Since 2020, IOM has been providing lifesaving and humanitarian assistance to such vulnerable returnees at Dewele border at a space provided by the Ethiopian Immigration and Citizenship Service (ICS).  The MRC in Dewele is expected to extend such services in a more organized and structured manner.

IOM also provides onward transportation assistance to adult returnees capable and willing to going back home on their own, while family tracing and reunification for unaccompanied migrant children (UMC) is also being facilitated through a referral system established with Forum for Sustainable Child Empowerment (FSCE), a specialized local NGO based in Dire Dawa.  FSCE also provides temporary shelter and psychosocial support to unaccompanied migrant children until their guardians are contacted.  Most vulnerable returnees in need of further assistance will be referred to IOM’s MRC in Dire Dawa for further follow-up.

In the first eight months of 2022, prior to the construction of the MRC in Dewele, IOM assisted 5,400 vulnerable Ethiopian migrants with onward transportation, non-food items, high-energy biscuits, water and basic medical screening at the immigration compound in Dewele.   

IOM supports MRCs established along key migration routes in Ethiopia. The MRCs support the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia to protect migrants, by facilitating the identification of those in vulnerable situations and the provision of appropriate lifesaving assistance. Upon return to their places of origin, migrants receive livelihood assistance to ensure their sustainable reintegration into their communities. The other existing MRCs in Ethiopia are operating in Dire Dawa, Metema, Moyale, and Togwajaale

About the EU-IOM Joint Initiative

Launched in December 2016 and funded by the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the programme brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU, and IOM around the goal of ensuring migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities.

Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP)

The Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen 2021 – 2024 is a migrant-focused humanitarian and development response strategy for vulnerable migrants from the Horn of Africa, specifically Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia, moving to and from Yemen. It provides an essential strategic framework to ensure a whole-of-society, whole of-route and whole-of-government approach to addressing migrants’ protection needs, risks and vulnerabilities.

The overall objectives and the goal of the Framework is to establish a more efficient response to address humanitarian and protection needs, risks and vulnerabilities of migrants and contribute to community stabilization, resilience promote comprehensive, quality, timely and inclusive humanitarian, protection, and migration responses throughout the Eastern Route ensuring a dynamic, comprehensive, and effective framework for coordination, capacity enhancement, analysis and resource mobilization that recognizes, responds to and addresses the regional dimensions of the migration linking the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

Improving The Protection Of Vulnerable Migrants In Ethiopia Through Tailored Direct Assistance And Referral

This Norwegian Government-funded project aims to contribute to the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) to protect and empower migrants in vulnerable situations, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups, by providing direct and long term assistance to migrants in irregular situations and strengthening the national and regional institutions active in the protection of migrants and referral systems.

For more information, please contact Helina MENGISTU at