IOM’s approach to migrant vulnerability is rooted in the belief that the human rights of all persons, including migrants, should be upheld and promoted and that all migrants who are vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse should be afforded the protection and assistance services they require, irrespective of membership in any particular group or if they hold any particular status. The Global Assistance Fund exists to support these migrants in locations where local actors have limited or no capacity and resources to respond to their needs.  

The services provided by the Global Assistance Fund for the protection and assistance of vulnerable migrants are tailored-made to each individual’s unique needs.

The GAF team assesses migrant vulnerability using standardized procedures that examine individual, household, community, and structural risk factors that increase vulnerability, and explore the unique situation and experiences of each migrant. By doing so, GAF is able to develop protection and assistance plans that target each migrant in an individualized manner and resolve their specific vulnerabilities.

The process

Once a vulnerable migrant is identified, an IOM case worker completes an initial assessment to determine the migrant’s immediate needs and explore potential national or regional programs that can assist the case. Immediate needs often include urgent medical care and immediate safety and security. If no alternative programs for assistance are available and the migrant fits on GAF’s eligibility criteria, the case worker applies for GAF’s support to respond to the needs of the migrant. The GAF team then assesses the case against GAF criteria and, if eligible, requests the case worker to complete the assistance planning and budget form. The GAF team reviews it and approves or works with the caseworker to adjust as necessary. Once the assistance plan and budget are determined, the GAF team provides the case worker with the funds to support the migrants’ needs. Once these needs are attended to, the case worker undertakes longer-term assistance planning with the migrant, so that their unique concerns are addressed and a pathway towards sustainable recovery is identified.

The case worker, in coordination with the GAF team, guarantees provision of the services required by the migrant, and ensures continuity of care through to eventual case closure.

Monitoring of a case is dependent on the acceptance of the person being assisted. With the consent of the migrant, the GAF team encourages case workers 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. All cases must be closed within a timeframe of six months unless the GAF team approves an extension request from the case worker, which can prolong the assistance up to nine months in total.  

The services GAF can provide to eligible migrants

  • 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 assessment and reunification;
  • Voluntary return assistance;
  • (Re)integration assistance planning and financial support.

Duration of the assistance

GAF’s direct assistance generally includes short, medium and, when necessary and possible, longer-term support. All eligible migrants can be provided with an in-kind or cash assistance to satisfy basic needs 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 provided there no other sources of funding and/or mainstream/ specialized services available.

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 monitoring, as appropriate and when in the best interest of the migrant.

Budget for assistance

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

We are here to help!

The GAF team is available to provide continuous technical support to IOM case workers throughout the whole case management process. The team can help case workers complete the initial assessment of the migrants’ vulnerabilities via screening; determine assistance and budget plans to ensure the services are adequate for each migrant; conduct monitoring assessments to guarantee that the assistance is being properly delivered; and plan the sustainable recovery of the beneficiaries.

Do not hesitate to contact us via email at

To know about the migrants we assist, please visit the Case stories section.

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