01 Dec 2017

UN Migration Agency Completes Workshops in Nigeria on Assistance to Migrants Caught in Crises

Abuja – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, early this month (01/12) completed a series of workshops in Abuja, Nigeria, designed to increase the capacity of multiple West African states to protect migrants in the event of a crisis. The five-day-long workshops were organized in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the Government of the United States of America (US).

Intended to implement the recommendations of the Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster, the workshops sought to raise awareness among the disaster management experts of ECOWAS countries, emergency management and civil protection actors. It was also used as an occasion to present training and operational materials to the participants, and to build the capacity of a core group of master trainers.

The workshops, held in Abuja, from November 27 to 29, 2017, and November 30 to December 1, 2017, respectively, consisted of an awareness raising session on the specific vulnerabilities of migrants for emergency management experts of ECOWAS countries, and a more targeted training for trainers from Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Senegal and the ECOWAS Commission. These events were a first step towards the establishment of a more systematic effort to include migrants in emergency management efforts in the region.

“Considering that West African countries under the framework of ECOWAS are implementing the Free Movement Protocols, it is essential as part of the elaboration of this policy that migrants are taken into consideration in planning national emergency preparedness strategies,” Nnamdi Iwuora, IOM Regional Programme Officer.

The workshops were implemented by IOM as part of the project “Protecting Vulnerable Migrants in West and Central Africa”, financed by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the Government of the United States of America. The project seeks to improve the national and regional mechanisms for managing mixed migration flows and the needs of vulnerable migrants, and ensure that vulnerable migrants in the region receive direct assistance through an emergency fund, in coordination with other national level stakeholders.

Over the last few years, several calls have been made within the international community to adequately respond to the impacts of crises on migrants. This has led to the establishment of the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative, a State-led policy process that has brought together governments and non-governmental actors to discuss experiences, challenges and priorities regarding the assistance of migrants affected by crises. The MICIC Initiative ended in 2016 with the release of voluntary and non-binding Guidelines – a set of concrete recommendations for States and other actors to improve responses for crisis-affected migrants.

Today, there are almost 250 million international migrants in the world, more than ever before. In times of crisis, many of them may fall through the cracks of emergency preparedness, response and relief, and recovery systems. The specific vulnerability of migrants was clearly shown in recent crisis situations, whether it be in the upheavals and violence in Libya and Yemen, or in natural disasters in Japan and the US, migrants have often been among the most affected groups.

For more information, please contact: Florence Kim at IOM's Regional Office in Dakar, TEL: +221 78 620 62 13, Email: fkim@iom.int.