There are more than 6 million migrants and refugees in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, according to UN migration agency IOM. Just over 50% of them are women and girls. Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia all host more than one million foreign citizens. More than 10 million people in the region have been internally displaced.
There were roughly 6.2 million international migrants living in East Africa and the Horn of Africa in mid-2020, according to recent IOM estimates. A majority of them were refugees: 3.6 million (58%). (The IOM report defines 'international migrants' as including both people forced to flee their homes and people who voluntarily left their home country.)
More than 50% female migrants
Women and female children made up 50.4% of the refugee and migrant population in East Africa and in the Horn of Africa, IOM said in their 'A Region on the Move 2021' report.
This is unusual compared to other regions in Africa, which usually host more male than female migrants, IOM said in their report. They explained that this is likely due to the large number of people forcibly displaced in the region, because usually "females account for the largest share of refugees and asylum seekers while labour migration remains dominated by males."
The number of international migrants in the region increased by 16% over five years ago (it was 5.4 million in mid-2015) and by 80% over 20 years ago (the number of international migrants in mid-2000 was 3.5 million in mid-2020), according to IOM.
Roughly one quarter (24%) of all the international migrants living in Africa (25.4 million) were hosted in the region, IOM said.
More than 13 million people displaced, mostly internationally
In 2021 there were 13.2 million forcefully displaced persons in East Africa and the Horn of Africa -- in addition to 3.6 million refugees and asylum seekers living outside their home countries, there were also 9.6 million internally displaced people, according to IOM.
The largest hosts of migrants and refugees are Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan have the largest populations of internally displaced people.
The region also includes Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
What sets this region apart from others, according to IOM, is that many countries in East Africa and the Horn of Africa are both the destination for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and countries of origin for many requesting asylum and refugees.
South Sudan is an example of this: in 2021, it hosted 325,000 refugees and asylum seekers, while nearly 2.3 million refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan were given shelter abroad.
Displacement triggers: Conflict, insecurity and climate emergencies
Conflicts and insecurity remain the main factors leading to displacement in the region, according to IOM.
Their report also mentions climate-induced emergencies -- including the recent drought primarily in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya -- as triggers for new displacement across the region.
IOM's Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa Mohammed Abdiker reiterated this in a recent tweet calling for more aid, saying that the drought in Somalia and the Horn of Africa "is worsening and famine is imminent. Four failed rainy seasons have been catastrophic for people and a fifth is predicted."