Abuja – On 22 July, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the ECOWAS Commission conducted the annual Heads of Immigration Meeting to address the current challenges affecting border and migration management in the ECOWAS region.
Under the theme, “Deepening Regional Integration: Strengthening Security and Border Management Systems and Adopting the Free Movement Regime to the Coronavirus Pandemic,” ECOWAS officials came together to discuss the full implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol of Free Movement and the removal of all obstacles to free mobility.
As the world continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic, many nations are confronted with high levels of uncertainty, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is no exception. Cross-border mobility has also drastically reduced due to border closures and travel restrictions. In a region where about 90 per cent of its citizens are migrating within the ECOWAS space, effective border and migration management remain a key priority for all its member states.
“Beyond the social and economic problems, our region has new challenges in security and health. It also shows that our community is facing complex problems that can be tackled by any country,” said Téi Konzi, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement. Konzi also emphasized the importance of solidarity amongst ECOWAS Member States to ensure integration and development throughout the subregion. “In this situation, solidarity should be enforced to provide security and guarantee the free movement of citizens in our sub-region,” continued Konzi.
As of 20 July 2020, over 100,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the region, and the rate of infection continues to grow. Measures taken at various ECOWAS borders and points of entry will not only benefit migrants and people on the move but also frontline officers.
“The adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on migration and mobility are obvious and reveal the urgent need to critically reevaluate and adjust the many policies, practices and legal frameworks protecting ECOWAS Borders and Community Citizens,” said Sophie Nonnenmacher, IOM Regional Director for West and Central Africa, a.i.
Chaired by Ghana, the meeting aimed to strengthen and increase regional integration, as envisioned in the ECOWAS Vision 2020. This year’s Heads of Immigration Meeting included a global health security component to further strengthen ECOWAS’ harmonized response to COVID-19. Participants also discussed the status of implementation of the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Cards (ENBIC), the establishment of the Migration Training Academy in Abuja, Nigeria, and the regional visa known as the ECOVISA.
This event falls under the project “Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa” FMM West Africa which is jointly funded by the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission.
For more information, please contact:
The FMM West Africa Project, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +234 906 242 1085