International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Office in South Africa:

Street Address: 826 Government Avenue, Arcadia, Pretoria
Postal Address: PO Box 9305, Pretoria 0001
Tel: (+27) 12 342 2789
Fax: (+27) 12 342 0932


The IOM started off as the International Refugees Organisation. After World War II, it fell into disfavour with President Truman and various European countries, and was abolished. In 1951 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was established and, outside the UN, the precursor to the IOM. The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) was established in Brussels on 5 December 1951.

International developments gradually led to an extension of the operations of the ICEM and in 1980, in recognition of the ICEM's global role, it was renamed Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (ICM).

During a special session in May 1987, specific amendments to the Constitution, in particular as regards the ICM's role and mandate, were adopted. At the same time the Council resolved to change the name to that of International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The South African Government approved membership of the IOM on 22 October 1997. South Africa was admitted as a member at the 74th Session of the IOM Governing Council which took place in Geneva from 25 - 27 November 1997. The IOM has established its regional offices in Pretoria which cater for IOM activities in the entire region (SADC).


Department of Home Affairs


The activities of the IOM include the provision of emergency assistance to migrants affected by conflict situations. The IOM has participated in virtually every emergency involving large-scale movement of people since it was founded in 1951. The IOM offers its services to vulnerable populations in need of evacuation, resettlement or return.

The IOM also provides services during periods of post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. In recent years, the international community has also come to look to the IOM increasingly to assist in the repatriation and reintegration of demobilized soldiers or police officials.

Through its "migration for development programmes", the IOM provides skilled manpower to states, taking into account national development priorities as well as the needs and concerns of receiving communities.

The IOM furthers the understanding of migration through regional and international seminars and conferences. These also help to develop practical solutions to problems. By means of its technical cooperation programmes, the IOM offers advisory services on migration. These programmes respond to the needs of governments to develop coherent responses to migration challenges in a changing international environment. Their aims are to assist in the development and implementation of migration policy, legislation and management. The IOM technical cooperation programmes also focus on capacity-building projects such as training courses for government migration officials.

According to the IOM constitution, any state with a demonstrated interest in the principle of free movement of persons, which undertakes to make a financial contribution at least to the administrative requirements of the Organisation, may join.

IOM hold annual meetings on Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA). The first one was held in Pretoria in 1999 followed by the 2000 meeting in Swaziland. The 2001 meeting will be held in Zambia in May. The object of MIDSA is to develop a comprehensive Migration Policy that would be beneficial for Southern Africa i.e a policy that would recognise that effective and co-operative boundary management enhances trade, economic cooperation and development, as well as strengthens mutual trust between countries in Southern Africa.

Quick Links:

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 13 February, 2004 10:48 AM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa