International Organization for Migration (IOM) Addresses Challenges of Mixed and Irregular Migration in Southern and Western Indian Ocean Routes

Lusaka, Zambia, 23 November 2024 -The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Government of Zambia successfully concluded a 3-day inter-regional consultative meeting on managing mixed and irregular migration along the Southern and Western Indian Ocean routes. The meeting, held in Lusaka, brought together representatives from member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), key transit and origin countries in the East and Horn of Africa (EoHA), and other stakeholders.

The consultation provided a platform for in-depth discussions and reflections on the current challenges, emerging issues, and opportunities concerning mixed migration flows towards the Southern African region. With thematic presentations and technical working sessions, the participants gained a better understanding of the dynamics of mobility along these routes and formulated actionable recommendations to strengthen programmatic and policy responses.

“It is important to endeavour to understand the dynamics of mixed and irregular migration, which are usually elusive in Southern Africa, where there has been little research on the subject, and therefore very limited data”, said Mr Dickson Matembo, Permanent Secretary of Zambia’s Ministry of HOme Affairs and Internal Security.

Facilitated by the Southern Africa Migration Management (SAMM) project and the Africa Regional Migration Programme (ARMP), the consultation addressed the need for improved migration management and the protection of migrants along these routes.

During the consultation, participants recognised the complexities faced by migrants, including protection concerns, limited access to basic needs and services, discrimination, forced labor, and exploitation. The meeting focused on addressing root causes, collecting and analysing migration data, providing inclusive protection assistance, and creating a conducive policy environment. Working groups formulated key outcomes and recommendations, which were discussed and validated in plenary sessions.

"The southern migratory routes are complex and diverse, and increasingly becoming dangerous for migrants, leading to tragic incidents and exploitation of vulnerable individuals,” informed Mr Mati Hashemee, IOM Regional Director for Southern Africa. “It is estimated that close to 17,000 migrants travel along these routes annually, with the actual number being projected to be higher, thus necessitating more research”, he continued.

The Ministerial Statement on Mixed Migration in the regions was developed and adopted by senior officials and ministers from participating member states. This statement outlines concrete actions and commitments by Member States and development partners to ensure a dignified, orderly, and safe migration landscape in the concerned regions. Strengthening cross-border cooperation and collaboration among regional bodies, such as the African Union Commission (AUC), SADC, Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was emphasised as crucial for achieving these goals.

SAMM, a project funded by the European Union (EU), aims to enhance migration management in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region through collaboration between UN agencies, including IOM, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). ARMP, funded by the United States' Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), focuses on strengthening the capacity of governments to manage migration in a sustainable and humane manner across the African continent.

The successful conclusion of this inter-regional consultation demonstrates the commitment of member states and stakeholders towards addressing the challenges of mixed and irregular migration. IOM remains dedicated to supporting Member States in their efforts to improve migration governance and protect the rights and well-being of migrants along these routes.


For information please contact:

• Tunde Omoyeni, IOM/SAMM,

• Sylvester Deane, IOM/ARMP,