IOM in partnership with USIU-Africa holds consultative forum to discuss labor migration in the region

January 17, 2024, Nairobi, Kenya

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is working with hundreds of students in East Africa to raise awareness and understanding of labour migration in the region. Over 200 students from the United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa), the University of Nairobi, Daystar University, Mount Kenya University, Technical University of Kenya, and Strathmore University had the opportunity to participate in an event titled "East and Horn of Africa Migration Dialogues for Understanding and Shaping the Future".

During the event, held today at the USIU-Africa campus in Nairobi, IOM representatives and students, along with migration experts and policymakers discussed the positive impact and benefits of regular and safe labour migration, and challenge myths about the economic impact of migration, highlighting its benefits. Participants also discussed how to advocate for the rights of migrants, and promote policies that protect migrants. And the social, economic, and political challenges faced by migrants, with attention to gender and labour migration.

According to IOM's State of Migration in the East and Horn of Africa report released in May 2023, the region is estimated to be home to approximately 464 million people. Within this population, there are 22.3 million displaced persons and 8.5 million international migrants. Migrants play a substantial role in the East and Horn of Africa region, both economically and socially. They fill critical labour gaps drive economic activity and play vital roles in key economic sectors. Migrants further send billions of dollars in remittances back to their home countries, supporting families and local economies.

Well managed migration can lead to reduced poverty and inequality both for migrants and their communities. This contributes to achieving global development goals and reducing inequalities. When migrants can work safely and legally, they are more likely to send remittances back to their home countries, boosting economic and development efforts. Despite these, migrants in the East and Horn of Africa region continue to face a range of negative experiences, impacting their safety, well-being, and rights including exploitation, trafficking and smuggling, discrimination, poor access to health and justice, and more.

Speaking during the event, the Interim Vice Chancellor Dr. Omolola E. Omole-Odubekun reaffirmed the university’s goal towards providing a holistic education, giving students practical solutions to an ever-evolving world. “USIU-Africa is committed to providing our students with opportunities to learn about and engage with pressing global issues. East and Horn of Africa Migration Dialogues are a perfect example of this commitment, and we are proud to partner with IOM to launch this important initiative,” she said.

Justin MacDermott, IOM Deputy Regional Director for East, and Horn of Africa noted that partnering with universities in the country is geared towards achieving set milestones as an organization.

“Students and the youth have a role to play in the future of migration. Events such as these enable us to achieve the goals in our Youth Strategy which include promoting safe, orderly, and regular migration for young people, increasing youth participation in migration policy and decision-making, building the capacity of young people to address migration challenges and opportunities and combatting negative attitudes towards migrants and promote tolerance and inclusion,” he said.

Mariam Rajab, an International Relations student at USIU-Africa spoke passionately about issues facing the youth today and the importance of including them in policy dialogues.

“We are future decision-makers on migration issues. By providing a platform to learn, discuss, and engage with experts and policymakers, IOM is fostering a deeper understanding of migration dynamics in the region, encouraging critical thinking and informed decision-making, and empowering us to advocate for positive change,” she said.

A number of similar dialogues are envisaged to take place in universities and institutions of higher learning across the region with the hope of encouraging students to take an active role in advocating for the rights of migrants, the regularization of migration, and promotion of policies that protect migrant workers’ rights.

The event is supported through IOM’s “Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM)” program which aims to enhance labour migration governance and protection of migrant workers and their family members’ human, social and labour rights and intra and inter-regional cooperation on a whole of government and whole of society approach.


About IOM
Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM is part of the United Nations system, as a related organization.

IOM supports migrants across the world, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration and, as such, is a key source of advice on migration policy and practice. The organization works in emergency situations, developing the resilience of all people on the move, and particularly those in situations of vulnerability, as well as building capacity within governments to manage all forms and impacts of mobility.

The Organization is guided by the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including upholding human rights for all. Respect for the rights, dignity and well-being of migrants remains paramount.

Media Contacts:
Janet Adongo,
Regional Program Communication and Visibility Officer, IOM/UN Migration for East and Horn of Africa,

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