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Protecting Returnees Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse

Two migrants sitting on the porch of a house. Photo: IOM/Mohammed Muse
Two migrants sitting on the porch of a house. Photo: IOM/Mohammed Muse

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, States committed to “cooperate internationally to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status”. As such, target 10.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for the facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people.

Addressing and reducing vulnerabilities in migration is also one of the objectives of the newly adopted Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. In Objective 7 of the Compact, States have committed to “respond to the needs of migrants who face situations of vulnerability […] by assisting them and protecting their human rights, in accordance with [their] obligations under international law.

IOM’s approach to migrant vulnerability is rooted in the principle that the human rights of migrants should be upheld, promoted, and migrants should be afforded the protection and assistance they require. Sadly, migrants face numerous forms of violence, exploitation and abuse including trafficking in persons, labour exploitation and sexual violence, including in the context of a return back in their country or place of origin. It has become increasingly clear, over the past few years that greater efforts are needed to understand the dynamics underpinning migrant vulnerability, along with greater efforts to protect and assist the migrants affected.

In this regard, IOM has recently launched Guidance to Improve Protection and Assistance for Migrants Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse, including standardized identification and assessment protocols, standard operating procedures, and minimum standards for protecting and assisting migrants in need.

The tools, which are available for download here include:  

In the context of return and reintegration, this suite of tools complements the recently released IOM Reintegration Handbook. Together, they seek to support the development of longer-term sustainable resolution of vulnerability as a critical component of sustainable reintegration. They provide guidance and tools to identify vulnerable migrants, with a view to taking measures to prevent them from experiencing harm and/or to developing appropriate protection and assistance plans if harm has already been done.

These tools are the first of their kind and will assist policymakers and practitioners by laying out clear operational direction on providing protection and assistance to migrants vulnerable to, or who have been subject to, violence, exploitation and abuse. They build on the recognition that the protection of vulnerable migrants and sustainable reintegration require the adoption of solid partnerships as well as coordinated policies and practices between relevant stakeholders at the international, national and local level.