ECOWAS Parliament urges member countries to tackle illegal migration 

Adobe Echono, Abuja 

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The Economic Community of West African States Parliament has called on states and governments of ECOWAS member states to tackle the causes of illegal migration in the region.

The ECOWAS Parliament, in its declaration on migration in West Africa in Niamey, Republic of Niger, at the end of a three-day Parliamentary Sensitisation Forum on Migration in West Africa, further called on member states to tackle the causes through awareness raising, education and training, as well as through good governance in order to motivate the young people to remain in their home territories.

The ECOWAS Parliament also called on member states to promote economic alternatives to the trafficking in the region and to develop the resilience of local populations by improving access to basic services and creating employment opportunities, particularly for the young people.

The ECOWAS Parliament further called on the member states to “also promote an alternative to the underground economy of illegal trafficking of migrants and human trafficking by creating new sources of revenue for the communities affected or in the process of being affected by trafficking in the transit countries.”

Similarly, the ECOWAS  Parliament reaffirmed the need to promote and effectively defend the fundamental freedoms and rights of all migrants, particularly women and children, irrespective of their migratory status.

It also reaffirmed the need by member states to address the issue of international migrants through cooperation and international, regional or bilateral dialogue, avoiding approaches that could make them even more vulnerable.

The ECOWAS Parliament also called for the involvement of the major social actors such as the non governmental organisations and other civil society stakeholders, as well as the local authorities in the development and implementation of migration policies and programmes.

Amongst other recommendations, the ECOWAS Parliament asked member states to deepen relations with the United Nations agencies, international organisations and the civil societies in order to better respond to the challenges, while taking advantage of the opportunities presented by international migrations.

In his closing remarks, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, said the free movement of people, irrespective of the negative impact of irregular migration, was a legal affair.

Mr. Cisse Lo added that it was increasingly admissible that young men and women of the sub-region were going through inhumane treatment in the cause of seeking greener pastures through irregular migration, stating that there was need to tame the ugly situation.

“Following the three days of intense debate and discussions, the MPs brainstormed with the experts and the resource persons on the problem of migration in West Africa. Now, what we have to remember and take away, is that it is a cross-cutting issue and also a burning question because migration is not a new phenomenon. It has been there since the beginning of humanity and solutions have not been found for the populations.

“Now, the youths, especially, are the ones who are involved. They die in the desert and then they die in the sea and they go through a lot of suffering and are even subjected to slavery. And for this, all of us have to assume our responsibilities.”

Mr. Cisse Lo who said the shared responsibility falls on the member states and it’s institutions to tackle the menace reiterated ECOWAS Parliament’s commitment in the addressing issue of irregular migration.