What does the IOM Global Assistance Fund do?

IOM’s Global Assistance Fund (GAF) is an emergency fund that offers personalized immediate protection and sustainable direct assistance to migrants in vulnerable circumstances across the globe. GAF has existed for 20 years to fulfill the mandate of not leaving any migrant in an extremely vulnerable situation behind.

What is the background and scope of the Global Assistance Fund?

Established in August 2000, IOM’s Global Assistance Fund initially aimed at providing immediate emergency protection and assistance services for victims of trafficking who were identified in locations where local actors have limited or no capacity to respond to their needs. The Fund has since expanded its eligibility criteria to include other migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse who are in need of protection and assistance, as well as migrants unable to effectively realize their human rights and/or human dignity due to an inability to meet their own basic needs or those of their dependents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 21 years of existence, GAF has supported more than 3,660 vulnerable migrants from over 100 countries with comprehensive, direct, tailor-made and sustainability-focused protection and assistance services.

Nowadays, the Global Assistance Fund is the global fund in IOM with the broader scope of protection and assistance to migrants in all regions of the world.

Who manages the Global Assistance Fund?

The IOM Global Assistance Fund management is located within the Department of Migration Management at IOM Headquarters (Geneva) and comprises a minimum essential staff responsible for overall program administration including global project support and monitoring.

Each assistance case is managed by the relevant (requesting) IOM Office(s) and IOM Headquarters, often in coordination with the appropriate national counterparts and civil society organizations present in the country where the migrant is identified.

How to support the Global Assistance Fund?
  • Member States and private organizations can support the Fund through one-off or annual contributions.
  • Individuals wishing to contribute to the Fund can do so online via the "Donate Now" section.
Who is eligible for the Global Assistance Fund?

All migrants in an extremely vulnerable situation are eligible to be assisted by GAF. These include migrants subject or vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse, such as labour exploitation, sexual and domestic violence, and subjected to kidnap, ransom or torture; victims of trafficking, smuggled or stranded migrants with protection needs; unaccompanied and separated migrant children; migrants with mental or physical health concerns; and migrants unable to effectively realize their human rights and/or human dignity due to an inability to meet their own basic needs or those of their dependents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GAF team assesses if the migrant meets the criteria using standardized screening forms that examine individual, household, community, and structural risk factors, as well as the unique vulnerabilities of each migrant. Staff in the field are responsible for completing the relevant form and submitting it to GAF.

Can I apply for support for large groups?

Yes, depending on the availability of funding. GAF has limited funds available but aims to assist all migrants in need who meet the eligibility criteria. In the case of groups, GAF approves each individual case within the group. This means that you must identify and properly screen each individual within the group and submit the relevant documentation to GAF for individual consideration. It also means that you cannot add on cases that have not been approved.

Please contact GAF as soon as you have information about a possible large group, even if you have not screened them yet. GAF will revert on the possibilities to support, as it may not have sufficient funds to assist, and cannot commit or allocate resources in advance.

What type of expenses can be covered by the Global Assistance Fund?

GAF aims to provide protection and assistance services tailor-made to each individual’s requirements. This means that needs are identified and cases approved on a case-by-case basis.

The following services and associated expenses are frequently provided to beneficiaries by IOM case workers or external service providers to whom IOM refers the case:

  • Safe accommodation;
  • Food and nutrition;
  • Clothing and hygiene items;
  • Psychological first aid;
  • Mental and physical health care;
  • Information and legal counselling;
  • Referrals for specialized services;
  • Document assistance (e.g., obtaining birth records, travel documents, etc.);
  • Travel and escorting, both in grown and for repatriation;
  • Cash assistance;
  • Family tracing and reunification;
  • Voluntary return assistance;
  • (Re)integration assistance planning and financial support.
What expenses are not eligible under the Global Assistance Fund?
  • All assistance expenses that can be covered by existing and available national or regional programs run by IOM, other international organizations, the government, or civil society organizations. GAF provides funding as a last resort. It is your responsibility, before requesting GAF’s support, to review all other potential sources of funding.
  • Staff and office costs. In exceptional circumstances, for example a large caseload of 10+ migrants to be assisted in less than a month, GAF may contribute to the costs of relevant staff salaries (e.g., case managers, operations staff), depending on funding availability and upon appropriate justification of staff functions and costs, prior to GAF’s approval to the case. In some cases, upon request from the Country Offices, GAF may deploy a staff member to assist with case management.
  • Service fees. Before requesting GAF’s assistance, inform your Chief of Mission and/or the Resource Management Officer that GAF does not cover service fees.
  • Any expenses not directly related to the protection and assistance of vulnerable migrants.
Where does the Global Assistance Fund operate?

The Global Assistance Fund works across the world and assists migrants identified in any regions of the globe. However, some donors may have some geographical requirements and exclude nationals from certain countries. The GAF team will assess each application against our eligibility requirements, and if the case is not eligible for geographical reasons, we will try to match it with appropriate funding streams.

How fast can I get approval from the Global Assistance Fund team?

The GAF team aims to respond to requests on the same day, and no longer than 48 hours after the request. In light of the urgency of some requests, the GAF team in HQ prioritizes rapid response over completion of all steps of the administrative process. However, this does not imply that any of the administrative requirements are waived; it is assumed that any Country Office requesting GAF’s support has read and agreed to the guidance note and GAF’s procedures.

What are the funding levels available for cases?

GAF aims to deliver personalized services that address the specific vulnerabilities of migrants in a comprehensive and sustainable manner. Therefore, the budget approved for protection and assistance services varies depending on the particular needs of each migrant on a case-by-case basis and on funding availability.

How long can a case be supported by the Global Assistance Fund?

GAF’s direct assistance packages generally include short, medium and, when necessary and possible, longer-term support. All eligible migrants can be provided with an initial basic assistance package, consisting of in-kind or cash assistance, for a maximum period of three months. For highly vulnerable migrants with identified protection needs (e.g., unaccompanied or separated migrant children; victims of trafficking; victims of violence, exploitation and abuse; migrants in need of health care), the assistance can be extended up to six months.

However, the GAF team recognizes that not all cases can be closed within such a timeframe. In those situations, the case worker will discuss the case with the GAF manager to determine the way forward, including advocacy with the national authorities to assume responsibility for longer-term care and maintenance, as appropriate and when in the best interest of the migrant.

How do I monitor the cases?

Participating in monitoring is voluntary on the pat of the person being assisted. For each GAF case, you should ask the individual if they are willing to participate in monitoring during and after the assistance has been delivered. Explain that participation is not mandatory and will not affect their eligibility for services. The GAF team encourages you to monitor the case at 3, 6, and 9 months (in case of longer-term assistance), to assess if all protection and assistance needs are being adequately met, and if the migrant is recovering well.

Monitoring can include in-person visits or follow-up calls, as appropriate. GAF can support the costs associated with monitoring up to USD 200 per case. These funds can be used to cover the costs of travel in the case of in-person monitoring. Costs of telecommunications for phone calls, fax, etc. All expenses require prior approval from GAF.

In some cases, upon coordination with the Country Offices, GAF may deploy a staff member to assist with monitoring.

Please use the GAF monitoring form when monitoring GAF cases. You can find it in the “GAF Forms for Case Management” section.

Can I apply for the support of the Global Assistance Fund for recurring cases?

GAF aims to provide emergency support to extremely vulnerable migrants when no other options for support are available. If you are regularly identifying vulnerable migrants, your office should take steps to develop a project for assistance and approach donors for support. Discuss with your Chief of Mission and/or RTS. If GAF receives continued requests for support from your mission, it may contact your Chief of Mission and/or RTS to alert them of the need to fundraise locally.