Amb. Babatunde Nurudeen, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission, has said that political instability was a leading cause for irregular migration among citizens in West Africa.
Nurudeen made this known on Monday in Uyo during the fourth UNHCR-ECOWAS Ambassadors’ retreat with the theme “Mixed Flows and Durable Solutions in the ECOWAS Region”.
According to Nurudeen, of all the diverse factors that drive mixed flows conventionally, political instability is the major factor that had led to the flow of migrants in the West African sub-region.
Nurudeen explained that the political architecture in Member States was responsible for several agitations against marginalisation and sit-tight syndrome of some political leaders which eventually led to incessant outbreaks of conflicts.
He said that some of the outcome of such political instability included the outbreaks of restiveness, insurgency, terrorism, intrastate violence in the forms of ethno-religious, political, criminal and struggle for scarce resources.
“The flow of migrants resulting from these socio-political upheavals has led to massive displacement of people, many of whom have had to migrate out of the affected state to save their lives and property.
“This has also impacted greatly on the achievement of economic development in the ECOWAS sub-region to move out in large numbers on a regular basis.
“The most worrisome in this situation is that a larger part of this movement is made up of the youth who arguably are expected to be the most viable human resource of West Africa.
“It is in this connection, therefore, that it becomes necessary for us to take advantage of the opportunity provided by this retreat to strategise by way of undertaking a thorough appraisal.
“And analysis of all factors responsible for mixed flows in West Africa to come up with lasting and durable solutions aimed at mitigating this scourge in our sub-region, if not completely eliminated,’’ Nurudeen said.
Nurudeen noted that the bi-annual Ambassadors’ retreat serves as a veritable platform to X-ray the achievements of the previous meeting and chart a new course by way of evolving new strategies.
He said that the new strategies would capture how best to tackle some of the emerging problems already highlighted.
In his remarks, Mr Frantz Celestin, Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said that the current humanitarian issues in the Lake Chad Basin called for a concerted efforts of stakeholders to address.
He said there was need for stakeholders to revamp efforts at a time when population flow became more complex and accelerated.
Celestin said that the retreat was an opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges of the works of all actors to align with a global view on protection that could benefit the West African region.
“The issues of statelessness, refugee protection, forcible displacement and mixed flows are present in different contexts throughout the region.
“We must recognise these challenges like mobility itself as cross cutting, in order to identify and operationalise durable solutions.
“Increasing complex and large scale migration flows typically pose significant and diverse vulnerabilities for affected individuals.
“The statement on the centrality of protection reaffirms that the protection of all affected and at-risk individuals and communities must inform the decision-making response.
“The statement indicates that beyond protection-mandated agencies, all humanitarians have the responsibility to protect affected or at-risk individuals and communities before, during and after crises strikes,” Celestin said.
Celestin said that IOM remained committed to working with UN partners and building on synergies with UNHCR.