Pretoria: Migrants’ Needs Often Overlooked in Times of Crisis

Location: Pretoria, South Africa

Pretoria 16 May 2017 – Representatives of National Disaster Risk Management, Civil Protection and Emergency Management institutions from Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states and other key stakeholders discussed practical approaches to include migrants in emergency preparedness, response and recovery during a two-day workshop on 15-16 May in Pretoria, South Africa.

“In times of crisis, migrants often fall through the cracks of emergency preparedness, response and relief, and recovery systems. Protecting and assisting migrants caught in crisis is a collective responsibility and we have to join efforts to respond to crises impacting international migrants to save lives, increase their protection, decrease their vulnerability and overall improve responses.” said Bogdan Danila, Senior Emergency and Post-Crisis Specialist with IOM’s Regional Office for Southern Africa.

The SADC region is experiencing the impact of a two-year-long El Nino event that ended in early 2016 and caused widespread drought, flooding and other natural disasters. In March 2107, Madagascar was hit by a tropical cyclone that left more than 110,000 people displaced, while severe flooding led to the displacement of thousands of people in Mozambique and Malawi in 2015. In addition to natural disasters, the SADC region has experienced man-made crisis situations, such as xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2015.

To address the situation of migrants in the context of crises, the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative launched a set of Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster in June 2016 at the UN in New York and Geneva. Together, the Initiative and its Guidelines are a state-led, multi-stakeholder effort to ensure that migrants — who are often invisible in the face of unexpected crises — are factored into relevant action. The Guidelines provide recommendations to all relevant stakeholders to ensure that migrants, just like citizens, are afforded the best possible protection when they are affected by situations outside their control. 

In order to help address migrants’ specific needs before, during and after crises, IOM is now rolling out trainings aimed at stakeholders involved in emergency preparedness response and relief. The trainings are based on a set of materials and methodologies developed under the framework of the MICIC initiative and in collaboration with government counterparts in Asia and the Americas and that focus on practical ways to improve the inclusion of foreign nationals in emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and the exchange of experiences among relevant institutions in migrants’ countries of destination. The trainings also provide tools to improve coordination among relevant stakeholders, and in particular with consular services in migrants’ countries of origin and with civil society organizations.

The region is characterised by large intra-regional mobility and countries like South Africa have a large migrant population. Since many events often affect several SADC countries simultaneously, it is necessary that responses are coordinated to the needs of migrants in crisis, effectively manage sudden mass cross-border movements and prevent unexpected stress on migration management systems.

The two-day workshop was highly hands-on with real-life scenarios and practical activities aimed at enabling participants to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for their professional practices in their respective countries. The workshop was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), and was organized in the context of contributing to the capacity of emergency migration management in the region. 

For more information, please contact: Chiara Frisone IOM Pretoria T: +27 7266 48003; E:

For information on the MICIC Guidelines and capacity building tools, please contact the MICIC team at IOM: +41.22.7179322, E: