In August 2020, 58 Sierra Leonean migrants stranded in the United Arab Emirates were referred to the IOM Global Assistance Fund after the Ambassador to the UAE reached out to IOM for support. The group of migrants included 15 women, 5 of whom were pregnant (all 6-7 months pregnant). All of the migrants were in a situation of severe vulnerability, living either homeless in the street or in extremely overcrowded and unstable accommodations, with up to 15 people sleeping in the same room. All had daily concerns over food security, often going to sleep without a single meal that day. Most were staying irregularly in the country and were exposed to violence, exploitation or abuse regularly. Almost none of the migrants were formally employed, and the very ones who were became unemployed as a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The Global Assistance Fund provided all 58 migrants with one-month localized assistance to allow time to prepare for their return. This included food vouchers, non-food items kits and cash assistance to cover housing and medical expenses, in many cases life-saving essentials for members of this group. The GAF supported the medical expenses of pregnant women and other migrants in need of health care. This case was cost-shared with the IOM Covid-19 Task Force, who later supported the beneficiaries' return to Sierra Leone.