Solutions Sought for Migrants at Risk of Disease on Key Mediterranean Routes

Remi receiving pre-departure health counselling before returning home to Banjul to meet his loved ones. Photo taken by Balkis Afifa Bousetta on 16 Jan 2024.

Tunis - Pandemic preparedness and response remains a challenge in many countries, even as the world opens up after COVID-19. 

In the last five years, Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia have all faced challenges with communicable disease outbreaks, which have been exacerbated by political instability and conflict along the Central Mediterranean Route.

Factors contributing to these outbreaks include poor healthcare infrastructure, and limited access to healthcare services, which also impacts vulnerable migrant and displaced populations.

“Migrants deserve to have their physical security assured throughout their journeys, and this includes their health status,” noted IOM’s health expert for the Middle East and North Africa Region, Michaela Martini.

Dr. Martini was speaking at the conclusion of a workshop in Tunis last week, where representatives from Libya, Algeria and Tunisia gathered to exchange best practices on cross- border disease surveillance and coordination on the central Mediterranean route.

“Understanding the current needs and situations on the ground as well as at the borders and providing proper health surveillance systems based on those needs is essential to prevent outbreaks emerging in countries of destination, transit and origin,” she added.

IOM aims to facilitate coordination and collaboration on cross-border disease surveillance and border and mobility management between the three countries.

The core objective of the workshop was to have evidence-informed approaches to communicable disease preparedness and response, within and across borders, in line with the 2005 International Health Regulations, the WHO Regional strategy for the health of migrants and refugees in Eastern  Mediterranean region, the IOM strategy on Migration in Middle East and North Africa the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Universal Health Coverage and the Global Compact for Migration.

This initiative was supported by the Government of France.

For more information, please contact:

In Tunisia:

In Cairo: Joe Lowry,