Confronting the Challenges of Migration in West & Central Africa

Richard Danziger is IOM’s Regional Director
for West and Central Africa

By Richard Danziger

Without a doubt, migration is a defining issue of this century.
One billion people, one-seventh of the world’s population, are
migrants. Some 258 million people are international migrants, 40
million are internally displaced and 24 million are refugees or
asylum seekers.

In 2018, there was no longer a single state that can claim to be
untouched by human mobility.

UN images of migrants

About 423 million people are living in the Economic Community of
West African States, a 15-member grouping whose aim is to promote
economic integration in a region where the unemployment rate is
sometimes 20%—inevitably leading to migration.

The protection of migrants is a core value of the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN migration agency.
Globally, but especially in the Sahel region, abuses against
migrants have grown more frequent along the migration routes. Human
trafficking and smuggling exacerbate the vulnerability of migrants,
especially those without access to documentation.

The IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa
maintains the conviction that anchored IOM’s founding 65 years
ago: that all men and women are equal members of the same human
family in which freedom, protection and dignity are not luxuries to
be reserved for the lucky few but fundamental rights for all

2.5 million people in need of humanitarian
assistance and 690,000 are internally displaced

Migration across the Sahel region is a complex issue, and
managing it involves major challenges, including insufficient
migration data, weak border management and controls, the recurrent
need for humanitarian assistance, irregular migration and human

Without effective bilateral or regional mobility agreements,
thousands of workers will migrate.

Richard Danziger

Migration is often associated with poverty, but other factors also
drive the phenomenon, including youth unemployment, climate change
and urbanization.

Employment-seeking migration accounts for the biggest share of
intraregional mobility as youth migrate from one country to another
looking for better job opportunities.

Widespread population displacement is also linked to violent
conflicts and unstable environmental conditions. Conflict in the
Central African Republic, for example, has left an estimated 2.5
million people relying on humanitarian assistance and 690,000
internally displaced.

Migrants fleeing violence have spilled across the borders of
neighboring countries, particularly Cameroon, Nigeria, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and the Republic of Congo.
The current situation represents a challenge not only for the
affected countries but also for the region.

In view of this growing crisis, a well-managed, orderly
migration framework that incorporates practical, humane and
rights-based operational solutions is needed. Strengthening
mobility schemes in the region will foster regular and circular
migration, allowing people to work abroad legally, return home
safely and participate in the development of their communities of

This strategy must also ensure the mobility of cross-border
communities, but such mobility raises border management challenges
in the absence of effective identity management systems and given
limited capacities to ensure surveillance and control over the
extensive and porous borders throughout the region.

Stakeholders will have to take coordinated action to address
issues such as threats to public health, despoiling of natural
resources, the loss of critical years of education and job

An increasing number of migrants are reconsidering
migration—especially irregular migration—and want to make it at
home before taking undue risks by going abroad. Legal channels and
regional mobility schemes could help this group.

To ensure the safety of vulnerable populations along migratory
routes who lack legal options to migrate or return home, IOM,
together with African Member States and the European Union,
launched in December 2016 the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant
Protection and Reintegration to provide immediate assistance to
stranded migrants along the routes. Almost 40,000 people have
received assistance since the launch.

West and Central Africa face some of the world’s greatest
challenges—climate change and desertification, displacement due
to conflict, galloping population growth and a youth bulge. But
thanks to the resilience of the population of almost half a
billion, these are also regions of enormous potential.

Sound migration policies and close cooperation among countries
within the regions and on the continent with other countries of
destination will help realize that potential, as will commitment by
all concerned states to implement the new Global Compact for

The link to the original article

The post
Confronting the Challenges of Migration in West & Central
appeared first on Inter
Press Service


Richard Danziger is IOM’s Regional Director
for West and Central Africa

The post
Confronting the Challenges of Migration in West & Central
appeared first on Inter
Press Service

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Confronting the Challenges of Migration in West & Central Africa