Study on Health Vulnerabilities of Migrants to Southern Africa


IOM South Africa is to conduct a study to analyse the health vulnerability of men, women and children migrating from East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region to Southern Africa.
The study which begins in September will be led by Lawry Research Associates International and is expected to be completed by July 2013. It will provide basis for evidence-based policy making among countries affected by mixed migration flows along this route in order to comprehensively respond to challenges brought by these mixed and irregular migration flows.

This study is a response to the recommendations of the 2010 Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration hosted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where delegates from the East and Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region and southern Africa agreed to work more closely in responding to the challenges of mixed migratory flows in the region.

Increasing mixed and irregular migration from the East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes regions to Southern Africa is causing concern among sending, transit and destination countries.

Migrants encounter different forms of protection and health vulnerability en route to their destination countries. These range from abuse, exploitation, detention, physical and sexual violence to basic needs such as clothing, shelter, and food, all of which contribute to poor health including communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Health is a factor that impacts on the vulnerability of migrants during their journey. Conditions under which many migrants are transported or detained pose serious health risks to the migrants.

“Inter-state cooperation is very important among countries affected by these migratory flows, we believe the study will provide a basis for evidence-based policy making and improve policies and programmes that address the health and protection of these vulnerable migrants,” says Dr. Erick Ventura, IOM South Africa Regional Migration Health Coordinator and Acting Chief of Mission

This study will also trace the route and means of transportation used by migrants towards Southern Africa, estimated numbers, modus operandi of smugglers, estimate of income generated to criminal groups and/or how the trip is financed, types of abuse and exploitation faced by migrants and protection issues in transit and destination countries among others.

The study builds upon the 2009 IOM Study, “In Pursuit of the Southern Dream: Victims of Necessity” which examined the extent of human trafficking taking place and also documented the reasons, methods and characteristics of large-scale movement of men from East Africa and the Horn toward South Africa.

While no such trafficking was identified, the research found large-scale smuggling of men, which also involved severe human rights violations, abuse and exploitation. The research revealed that men from Somalia and Ethiopia traveling south to South Africa are pushed by factors such as poverty and political instability.

The study is part of the Partnership on Health and Mobility in East and Southern Africa (PHAMESA) funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

For more information please contact

Gaone Dixon
IOM Pretoria
Tel. +27 82 815 5161


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