Governments of the Southern Africa Region Commit to Harnessing Human Mobility’s Potential, on IOM’s 70th Anniversary

On the 70th anniversary of IOM, in close collaboration with SADC member states, governments, development partners, donors, UN Agencies, Academia, civil society and migrant beneficiaries joined IOM for a virtual celebration. Photo : IOM 

Pretoria – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is celebrating its 70th year of providing support to Governments to address the policy and operational challenges of international migration and to harness the benefits of migration as well as providing assistance to migrants and vulnerable population across the world. With the generous support from both bilateral and multilateral donors and partners, UN sister Agencies and Civil Society, IOM has developed regional and national  interventions in response to challenges related to emergency and climate change, migration health, labour migration, migrants rights, immigration and border managements, research and policy dialogue.

IOM established formal relations and strategic partnership with SADC member states starting with Angola as the first SADC member state in 1991 and since then, all the 16 SADC countries have become IOM member states with IOM Offices in almost all the countries with  programmes and activities in support of governments and migrants and vulnerable population in need. 

On this 70th anniversary of IOM in close collaboration with SADC member states, governments, development partners, donors, UN Agencies, Academia, civil society and migrant beneficiaries, joined IOM for a virtual celebration on 17 December 2021, to recommit to the collective efforts of making migration work for all, and to work towards maximizing the benefits of migration and human mobility whilst reducing its negative impact.  

Migration to and from countries in Southern Africa region is largely driven largely by the pursuit of economic opportunities, political instability and increasingly, environmental hazards. In a region with an estimated population of 363.2 million people and 6.4 million international migrants at mid-year 2020 (UN DESA, 2020), a few countries serve as the economic pillars of the region. Industrial developments, the mining sectors in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, and the oil wealth of Angola have been magnets for both skilled and unskilled labour migrants from within the region and elsewhere. 

An estimated 2.9 million migrants resided in South Africa at mid-year 2020 (ibid.), the most industrialized economy in the region and a particularly attractive destination for migrants from SADC member states and elsewhere especially from the Horn of Africa  in search of better opportunities. 

Every December 18th marks the International Migrants’ Day to commemorate the contribution of migrants to host communities. This year’s  virtual event  was commemorated, with the participation of the President of Malawi as the SADC Chair, the IOM Director General, the SADC Executive Secretary, SADC Member states and cooperating partners as well as Mr. Paul Choy, IOM Goodwill Ambassador for migration in Mauritius, and a testimony from Juliana Virimayi, a Zimbabwean beneficiary whom IOM assisted to return to Zimbabwe from Namibia.

With the support of the European Union, The United States of America, government of Ireland, Italy and The Netherlands, among others donors, are currently supporting IOM and SADC member states with regional interventions and programmes  such as the Southern Africa Migration Management (SAMM) program, the Africa Regional Migration Program (ARMP), The Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV (SRHR-HIV) project, the Regional Migration Data Hub (RMDhub) and the upcoming implementation of the Maputo Diaspora Declaration towards national and regional Diaspora engagement for sustainable development.

For more information, contact Abibo Ngandu at

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