UN Migration Agency Co-hosts Free Movement of Persons Workshops in Gambia, Nigeria

Posted: 
08/04/17
Themes: 
Capacity Building

Abuja – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is co-hosting workshops and training sessions for member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consortium. The events are being held this week in Nigeria and the Gambia.

The ECOWAS Annual Heads of Immigration meeting is an institutionalised meeting of member state representatives meant to support and facilitate regional coordination among national immigration agencies dedicated to Border and Migration Management. The meeting is essential for facilitating and monitoring effective implementation of the 1979 Protocol on Free Movement, and to removing all obstacles that suppress free movement of ECOWAS citizens within the sub-region.

“The primary objective of the Heads of Immigration meeting is to provide a forum for those in charge of immigration in their respective countries to speak with one voice on the region’s pressing migration issues,” explained IOM regional spokesperson Tijs Magagi Hoornaert.

During the 2017 annual meeting, Heads of Immigration under the leadership of ECOWAS built further on achievements from previous meetings such as improving relations between relevant national officials; creating effective migration management networks within member states; building support for joint border patrols; strengthening capacities of national immigration officers and equipping them expertise.

Of special concern are topics such as the evolution of migration in Niger and Nigeria; the situation of migrants in Libya; innovative systems to improve border management and the modalities and requirements for putting in place a regional platform for information sharing.

One key meeting, taking place in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, will be attended by representatives from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and ECOWAS Heads of Immigration. That meeting continues through today (4 August) and is supported by the Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa) project.

The 2017 Heads of Immigration Meeting was preceded by the Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) thematic working group on Border Management. Fifteen migration experts from the different member states convened for that event, which was crucial for preparing of the Heads of Immigration meeting.

The FMM West Africa project is funded by the European Union (EU), and has a EUR 26 million budget and a five-year timeline. The project is driven by the ECOWAS Commission and implemented jointly by IOM, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). More information is available on the project website: www.fmmwestafrica.org

A three-day event, which started on 2 August in the Gambia, was designed to strengthen national actors’ capacity to follow the ECOWAS Regional Guidelines on migration data collection and management.

The Gambia training brought together 40 delegates and experts from Gambia’s Bureau of Statistics, National Population Commission Secretariat, Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Local Government, Health, Youth, Gambia Refugee Commission and the National Youth Council.

These participants support the gathering of regionally comparable migration data to be analysed for policy at both local and regional levels. Through the ECOWAS Guidelines, experts from the Gambia and the surrounding region will eventually contribute to the production of migration policies based on good and reliable data.

“Good data is the premise for good policy,” said Professor Aderantie Adepoju, a coordinator of the Network of Migration Research in Africa (NOMRA). “This cascade training is an excellent opportunity to coordinate national level migration data collection and management efforts to complement the broad regional framework of ECOWAS.”

The ECOWAS Regional Guidelines were developed following the recommendation of experts at the Regional Workshop on Migration Data Collection and Management organized by FMM West Africa in March 2016 in Lomé, Togo.

Cascade training is part of a major push to strengthen national capacities using the tools presented in the guidelines to address migration data challenges at the national level. During the training, regionally appropriate definitions of migration terms and concepts will be discussed in order to ensure common understanding at the national level. The training will be a good opportunity to strengthen networks both nationally and among ECOWAS members to ensure effective exchanges towards improved migration data.

 “Collecting, analysing and understanding migration data means there is a need to collect more than just border control data,” noted Ann Singleton, Senior Advisor to Global Migration and Dada Analysis Centre (GMDAC). “Using the ECOWAS Guidelines as a starting point, National Statistical Offices and Ministries will be able to better understand, and report to their policy makers at the national and regional levels, to help build an evidence base for effective migration policies.”

Future cascade trainings will be held in all remaining ECOWAS member states. The activity is implemented by the EU-funded FMM West Africa programme, Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa and the Population, Refugee and Migration Programme of the United States of America Protecting Vulnerable Migrants in West and Central Africa.

The FMM West Africa project is funded by the European Union (EU), and has a EUR 26 million budget and a five-year timeline. The project is driven by the ECOWAS Commission and implemented jointly by IOM, ICMPD and ILO. More information is available on the project website: www.fmmwestafrica.org

For more information, please contact Tijs Magagi Hoornaert, IOM Dakar, Tel: + 00221785891456 Email: tmhoornaert@iom.int  Or  Franz Celestin, IOM Nigeria: Tel: +234 8141375873; Email: fcelestin@iom.int or Nnamdi Iwuora, IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +234 9 8766856-7; Email: niwuora@iom.int

  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Annual Heads of Immigration meeting. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Annual Heads of Immigration meeting. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017