By Omeiza Ajayi
Stakeholders in the Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa Project, at the weekend, met in Abuja to reflect on set goals regarding issues of Labour Migration, Border Management and Counter trafficking in the region.
The event which drew immigration and diplomatic officials from countries in the region also had expert support from the International Centre for Migration Policy Development ICMPD, the International Organization for Migration IOM, the International Labour Organization ILO as well as relevant departments of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS.
Speakers at the event included the Chief of Mission IOM Nigeria, Frantz Celestine, Project Officer, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Eleni Zerzelidou, Director, Migration Dialogues and Cooperation of the ICMPD, Martijn Pluim, as well as the Director of Gender, Youth and Sports, Civil Society Organizations, Employment and Drug Control, ECOWAS Commission, Dr Sinkiti Tarfa Ugbe.
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In his opening remarks at the ‘Demand Driven Facility DDF Workshop’, Director, Migration Dialogues and Cooperation of the ICMPD, Martijn Pluim noted that the free movement of people is a central dimension of the integration process in West Africa as it facilitates exchange, trade, commerce and contributes to knitting societies in the region closer together.
“To fully tap into this potential, more needs to be done to further promote the implementation of the ECOWAS protocols and frameworks at the regional and national levels. To this end, the FMM West Africa Project was established as a partnership between IOM, ILO and ICMPD and funded by the European Union and ECOWAS. The project’s main objective is to support the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Free Movement of Persons’ Protocols and the ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration, thus maximizing the development potential of free movement and migration in the region.
“Within the framework of the FMM West Africa Project, the Demand Driven Facility was set up to address existing institutional gaps and migration capacity building needs in ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania”, he said.
Pluim noted that as the FMM West Africa Project is coming to its end, and its last activities implemented under the Demand Driven Facility being wrapped up, “it is crucial to take some time to reflect on the lessons learned and best practices that can be drawn from the actions implemented under this instrument. These lessons will help us to continuously improve and adapt to changing requirements”.
Funded by the European Union and ECOWAS, the FMM West Africa Project aims to maximize the development potential of free movement of persons and migration in West Africa by supporting the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Free Movement of
Person Protocols and the ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration.
Within the framework of the FMM West Africa Project, the Demand Driven Facility (DDF) for national institutions was set up to allow national institutions to submit a specific request for assistance in addressing institutional gaps and capacity building needs in the ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania.
Vanguard recalls that the first protocol relating to the Free Movement of Persons was adopted in May 1979, and along with the supplementary protocols and the 2008 ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration, it represents the cornerstone of the regional migration governance framework until today.