Immigration and border management controls in Ethiopia are being improved to help secure the country’s borders and make migration safer for hundreds of thousands of migrants who pass through the country each year. The improvements come against the backdrop of COVID-19 which has put the spotlight on the need to improve border management. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants have returned to the country from Djibouti, Somalia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other nations since the outbreak of COVID-19 through the country’s porous borders, many travelling on foot. The interventions are being funded by the German government to the tune of EUR 1.98 million. As part of the agreement, IOM Ethiopia has developed a border management programme with the Government of Ethiopia’s Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Agency. The programme will build the capacity of existing border crossings, support the establishment of new border crossings, and prioritize the protection of migrants.
Ordinarily, migrants have crossed through unofficial border crossing points (BCPs), in most cases without valid travel documents. Such movements make it difficult for service providers and protection actors to assist migrants in situations of vulnerability. Furthermore, migration through unofficial crossing points limits the Government of Ethiopia’s capacity to collect reliable data and develop evidence-based migration management policies.
Through this programme, IOM will work closely with the Government of Ethiopia on improving migration management and governance, including countering human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. The project will also pave the way towards eventually equipping the newly established border control posts with IOM’s Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), a system to capture data appropriately as well as support the verification of fraudulent documents.
Ethiopia has a 5,300km long border, one of the longest in the continent, which it shares with Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, and other states. However, few land BCPs in the country are equipped for the necessary screenings or to facilitate travel. Where they do exist, electricity and communication systems are largely absent or undependable. Border management and communication technologies are needed to realize the development potential of efficient movement of people, goods, and services across borders.
Migrants using unofficial BCPs are at risk of falling into the hands of traffickers and smugglers because they have limited access to legal means of travel and, as a result, may lack access to protection services.
The funding will enable IOM to protect migrants by helping organize their movement and providing them with basic essentials such as food and water, medical referrals, and transportation, and improve migration data collection which will help deliver assistance to migrants and inform migration policies more effectively.
Photo: IOM/Hugo Genest