Some 9 million people in and around the Horn of Africa had to leave their homes; 7 million people are currently displaced within their own countries and a further 2 million are predominantly seeking refuge in neighbouring states. Additionally, people are leaving their homes in search of a better life. To address the needs of people on the move, the European Union and the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development established the programme Better Migration Management (BMM).

Improving migration management in the Horn of Africa region and in particular to address the trafficking and smuggling of migrants, the BMM and its implementing partners (British Council, CIVIPOL, Expertise France, GIZ, Italian Department of

Public Security, IOM, UNODC) have set up many activities since it started 2016. These activities will take place in eight partner countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan (at the level of the Khartoum Process), Sudan and Uganda. Egypt and Tunisia may occasionally be included in activities of a regional nature.

The BMM so far

As of 2016, planning or verification workshops (to identify existing or needed activities) have been conducted in Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, to develop activity implementation with the relevant line ministries, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and local implementing partners. In Eritrea and South Sudan this process is still ongoing.

In Ethiopia, the first training courses for border officials on the rights of migrants and refugees started in September 2017 with the objective to put the officials in a better position to identify vulnerable migrants and refugees and refer them to the appropriate aid programmes. Further trainings are planned in Kenya and Sudan, for example, for investigators and judicial officers to enable them to take more effective action against human smuggling.

Protection of migrants

Protection for migrants is an important topic dealt with by the BMM project. Migrants are left with little choice once they are in an irregular situation and can refer to safe houses and mobile teams providing legal advice and psychosocial support That will be established upon an agreement being reached with partner governments. Initial appraisals have already taken place in Kenya and Ethiopia. Furthermore BMM assists stranded migrants with the instrument of voluntary return. In early 2017 about 230 Ethiopian migrants were voluntarily returned. They had migrated southwards in search of better income-earning opportunities and had been arrested in Zambia and Malawi. Through direct support (e.g. in Migrant Support Centers) vulnerable Migrants and VoT have access to health and psycho-social support.

Public outreach activities were also conducted this year: together with the NGOs HAART Kenya and PAWA254, in cooperation with the Kenyan Counter Trafficking in Persons Advisory Secretariat of the Government of Kenya, BMM hosted a public exhibition from 28-30 July 2017 in Nairobi. To mark the UN World Day against Trafficking, photos and posters showed every day realities of victims of trafficking. Approximately 4,000 people visited the exhibition in Nairobi’s Central Business District. An accompanying social media campaign reached a further 484,700 people.

Members of the public keenly going through the photo captions. Credit: BMM/Fridah Kibuko

For more information on the BMM project, its latest newsletter can be found here.

By Silke Schuck, BMM