IOM Rolls Out Tools for Protection of Vulnerable Migrants in Zambia

Zambia is a transit, destination and origin country for various groups of migrants, including unaccompanied and/or separated children, asylum-seekers, refugees, stranded migrants and victims of trafficking. These groups of people can be vulnerable due to the difficulties in identifying them within broader mixed movements and their limited access to legal rights and protections once identified. Furthermore, the limited capacity of government and partners to provide protection assistance exacerbates the risk for the most vulnerable, in particular children, for trafficking or other forms of exploitation.  

Protection Tools

The Government of the Republic of Zambia, with assistance from the International Organization for Migration in Zambia, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), developed tools for the protection of vulnerable migrants in Zambia (Protection Tools). The Protection Tools focus on identification and protection needs of vulnerable migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers, rejected asylum seekers, unaccompanied and separated children, victims of human trafficking and stateless persons. The tools were launched by the Government of the Republic of Zambia in 2014 and have since been disseminated at various national and international fora, such as the National Symposium on Human Trafficking and the Regional Conference on the Protection of Children on the Move, held in Zambia in May 2015.

Protection Tools for Vulnerable Migrants in Zambia




Profiling Form

Provides indicators for initial case determination and provides a basis for the identification and referral of vulnerable migrants in need of protection assistance

(Annexed to the Guidelines and Training Toolkit)

National Referral Mechanism

Provides guidance on the different stages of assistance and promotes stakeholder coordination for effective delivery of services to vulnerable migrants

Protection Guidelines

Outlines minimum standards for the provision of protection assistance to vulnerable migrants and acts as a checklist for first line officials[1], centered on human rights and applicable national and international laws

Training Manual

Facilitates capacity building of first line officials on protection of vulnerable migrants

Capacity Building

Subsequent to the development of the Protection Tools, IOM and UNHCR have provided training for trainers from law enforcement institutions, the Department of Social Welfare and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on the Protection of Vulnerable Migrants, and use of the Protection Tools. This Training of Trainers (TOT) was designed to equip the participants with knowledge and skills to effectively deliver training to first line officials on the guiding legal framework for migrants of concern, the identification, referral and provision of protective services for vulnerable migrants.

Following the TOT, approximately 300 first line officials have been trained in the use of the Protection Tools. Those trained include representatives from Immigration, Prisons, Police, Social Welfare and CSOs that provide protective services to vulnerable migrants. The training of first line officials on protection of vulnerable migrants enables first line officials to identify vulnerable migrants in need of protection assistance. In order to ensure sustainability of the trainings, IOM is working with the Department of Immigration, Zambia Police and Zambia Prisons Service to incorporate the Mixed Migration Training into their existing curricular so that both training for new recruits and in-service officers will have the opportunity to be trained in mixed migration, including the protection of vulnerable migrants.

“We are confident that this initiative will make training more cost effective thereby reaching more officers,” said Dr. Chilufya Mulenga, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, during the close of one of the Training of Trainers courses held in Siavonga in December 2015.

Direct Assistance

IOM Zambia works with its partners in Zambia on the provision of direct assistance to vulnerable migrants (the Direct Assistance Programme). IOM Zambia and its partners provided individualized protection assistance to more than 100 vulnerable migrants in 2015.

IOM’s Direct Assistance Programme offers coordinated assistance to victims of human trafficking, stranded migrants, and unaccompanied and separated children, in accordance with established standards and procedures, in close coordination with relevant national and international institutions. Assistance can include safe shelter, medical and psycho-social services, referral to the asylum process, legal assistance, family tracing, coordination of the issuance of travel documentation and, where appropriate, assisted voluntary return to countries of origin. Protection assistance is possible with support from the European Union, the United States Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), among other partners.

Case study: The story of Mary

Mary* is a 28-year-old Ethiopian young woman. While in Ethiopia Mary was approached by a lady who told her about a job opportunity in Zambia and Mary expressed interest and accepted the offer. Before coming to Zambia Mary was working in a shop in Ethiopia and was earning $100 per month. Following instructions from her recruiter Mary got a passport and travelled to Moyale, a town on the border between Kenya and Ethiopia, where she was met by a man tasked to bring her to Zambia.

When she arrived in Zambia she was met by a man who took her to his house and gave her a room where she would be sleeping. While at the same house she met the man’s wife and she was told she would be working for the family. Even though she did not know the kind of job she would do and did not sign a contract with the family she was promised an equivalent of between $800 and $1,000 per month.

After a few days in Zambia living with the family she asked the woman what kind of work/job she was going to be doing. Upon staying this the woman of the house threatened her and sternly told her that she didn’t have the right documents to work so would have to stay inside the house before until she could be married off to “a rich man”. She was repeatedly threatened and physically abused.

From then onwards Mary was not allowed to leave the house. However, she found an opportunity to escape and she was assisted by a person of good will from the local community who helped her report the case to the police.

In accordance with the provisions of Guidelines on the Protection Assistance for Vulnerable Migrants in Zambia, Mary was referred for protective assistance to the relevant authorities, with assistance from IOM. Through this assistance, Mary has since been provided with return and reintegration assistance and is currently studying to finish her schooling.

[1] Term used broadly to encompass immigration officers, police officers, social welfare officers, prisons officers, other civil servants, civil society organizations who have first contact with the vulnerable migrants