A three-day Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) meeting on the “Impact of Free Movement and Migration Challenges” opens today in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
High-level experts and government officials from the 15-member Economic Union of West African States (ECOWAS) region and Mauritania will come together at the annual event to discuss a regional policy on free movement and migration. Representatives of the European Union (EU), Switzerland, IOM, UN and other international agencies will also attend.
The ECOWAS region is characterized by high levels of cross-border migration caused by climate change, conflict and economic disparities. Since its establishment, in 1975, ECOWAS has played a key role to promote free movement and migration in the sub-region.
MIDWA was established in December 2000 by IOM with the support of the Swiss government and the EU. This week’s meeting is part of the Free Movement and Migration in West Africa project (FMM West Africa project), implemented by IOM, ILO and ICMPD. It is funded jointly by the European Union and ECOWAS.
“Today we face many challenges in irregular migration that require adequate interventions. We need to address the humanitarian needs and adjust structures for sustainable development in the whole region. These interventions require coordination between countries at regional and global levels,” said IOM programme manager Frantz Celestin.
The FMM West Africa project seeks to maximize the development potential of free movement of persons and migration in West Africa and has a component of intra-regional dialogue and migration policy development, specifically designed to support the MIDWA process.
The main objectives of the annual MIDWA meetings are: capacity building for the member states and partners in order to mainstream the full potential of regular migration; raising awareness among politicians, partners, high-level actors and stakeholders; and initiating an inter-state dialogue to develop an inter-regional and long-term policy on free movement within the ECOWAS region.
During the first two days of the MIDWA 2016 meeting delegates and experts will discuss: the correlation between migration and the increase of terrorist attacks in the ECOWAS region; the impact of free movement of persons and migration on the social, political and economic level; the impact of climate change on migration; and what mechanisms should be put in place in order to evolve to a joint migration policy between all ECOWAS member states. On the final day, delegates will adopt a final report.