The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with 27 partners is requesting $112 million to deliver immediate humanitarian and developmental aid to more than 1.4 million migrants and host communities across the Horn of Africa, Yemen, and Southern Africa.

This appeal is facilitated through the Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) for the Horn of Africa to Yemen and Southern Africa.

In a statement, the IOM highlighted that migrants in the region often depart from their homes in pursuit of improved employment prospects, and sometimes to flee from conflict, insecurity, and the negative impacts of climate change.

“On their journeys, many face life-threatening dangers including starvation, health risks and exploitation – at the hands of human traffickers and other criminals. Migrants are often left in dire need of medical attention, food, water, shelter and psycho-social support,” the statement said

It emphasised that the communities residing along these migration routes, who offer refuge and aid, necessitate assistance in tackling the underlying causes of irregular migration.

"They require access to fundamental social services, support to mitigate the effects of climate change, and education regarding the dangers associated with irregular migration."

In 2023, close to 400,000 movements were documented along the Eastern route, with an additional 80,000 movements recorded along the Southern route, notably towards South Africa.

Rana Jaber, the IOM Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa, remarked, “The past years have shown us what we can achieve when we work together. We are confident that we can accomplish even more in 2024, continuing to save lives and provide protection, offering access to sustainable solutions and enhancing the resilience of populations.”

According to the IOM's Missing Migrants Project, at least 698 individuals, including women and children, lost their lives on the Eastern route while attempting to cross the Gulf of Aden from Djibouti to Yemen in pursuit of reaching the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2023.

It's likely that this figure is higher, as some tragedies often go unreported. In November 2023, a shipwreck off the shores of Yemen resulted in the disappearance of 64 migrants, presumed dead at sea.

Children who are on the move are especially vulnerable and should be prioritized in migration efforts, as emphasized by UNICEF.

Lieke van de Wiel, Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa at UNICEF emphasised the necessity of prioritizing children and adolescents in migration policies. She underscored the importance of placing their rights at the forefront of migration policies and systems, especially in areas critical for children such as education, child protection, social welfare, and healthcare.

“For migration policies to succeed, we must prioritize children and adolescents, centering their rights at the core of migration policies and systems that are crucial for children, such as education, child protection, social protection, and health," stated Lieke.

In 2023, the Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) provided assistance to 200,000 migrants and host communities by delivering life-saving aid, addressing protection concerns, and facilitating migrants' integration into communities. With an anticipated increase in migration flows in 2024, continued funding is imperative.

West and Central Africa — Irregular Migration

The situation in the West African sub-region is not different. The Central Mediterranean Route is witnessing a notable rise in the influx of West Africans. This trend, observed throughout the initial half of the year, has seen nationals from countries like Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Cameroon comprising over 40% of arrivals in Italy during the first eight months of 2023. This represents a substantial increase from the approximately 5% recorded during the same period in 2022.

Between January and the end of September 2023, the IOM's Missing Migrants Project documented 424 fatalities along the Western African route. Alarmingly, over half of these deaths (247) occurred in the third quarter of the year. When comparing this figure with the number of registered arrivals during the same period, it reveals a harrowing statistic: for every 35 individuals who successfully reach the Canary Islands, at least one person tragically loses their life or goes missing during the journey.

As of 1 October 2023, UNHCR reported a total of 27,220 arrivals in Spain for the year, with 15,406 individuals arriving via the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands. This marks a significant increase from the 7,278 arrivals reported as of 2 July. Between these dates, there was a notable surge of over 8,000 arrivals, indicating that the total number of arrivals on the Atlantic Route more than doubled during the third quarter of the year.

According to the Human Rights Council, many refugees and migrants in North Africa are from West African countries. In Libya, out of 705,746 migrants, 46.9% (330,691) are from West Africa, including significant numbers from Niger (172,907), Chad (84,989), Nigeria (29,854), Ghana (14,448), Mali (13,507), Burkina Faso (4,056), Côte d’Ivoire (2,419), and Guinea (1,211).

In Tunisia, around a third of the estimated 21,500 sub-Saharan African nationals are from Côte d’Ivoire, while Guinea and Mali each contribute a tenth. Consequently, West African nationals likely suffered from mass expulsions in July from Sfax, leaving up to 2,000 migrants stranded in the desert near Algeria and Libya without food or water.

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