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West African States Discuss West African Irregular Migration Challenges

The Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) 2015 conference on “Irregular Migration: Challenges and Solutions” will be held this week (6-8 October) in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The conference, which will include a two-day experts meeting, followed by a one-day Ministerial meeting, is supported by the Swiss Government.

The conference, which falls under the framework of Free Movement and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa project), a European Union (EU)-funded project implemented by the Consortium of Partners (IOM, ICMPD and ILO) under the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, will focus on managing the challenges of irregular migration in the region, including policy and operational solutions.

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 on intra-regional dialogue and migration policy development, specifically designed to support the MIDWA process.

MIDWA brings together ECOWAS Member States (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo) plus Mauritania, to discuss and seek regional solutions to common migration issues. It was inaugurated by ECOWAS, in cooperation with IOM, in December 2000.

To date in 2015, half a million migrants have crossed the Mediterranean and almost 3,000 have died. Many of the migrants undertaking these journeys are from West Africa. West Africans also risk their lives every single day trying to irregularly reach Central African countries in search of a better life.

With such mobility, irregular migration and migration governance feature prominently in the political agendas of most West African governments. In this context, partnerships and consultative processes at the regional level aim to support the development of a common understanding of and response to the opportunities and challenges related to migration and mobility.

“Managing the challenges of irregular migration in the region requires diverse interventions, including addressing the humanitarian needs of migrants, tackling migrant and smuggling networks, and adjusting structures for sustainable development. Such interventions require coordination between origin, transit, and destination countries at regional and global levels,” said IOM Senior Regional Advisor for Africa Charles Kwenin.

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