ECOWAS, IOM inaugurate 100,000 euros fund to protect migrants in West Africa

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ABUJA – ECOWAS and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday inaugurated a 100,000 euros Non-State Actors Project Fund to support and protect the rights of migrants in member states.
Mr Sanoh N’faly, the ECOWAS Director of Trade, Customs and Free Movement, said at the inauguration in Abuja that the project, tagged: `Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa` was being jointly funded by the European Union and ECOWAS.
N’faly said that the fund was aimed at maximising the potential of free movement of persons and migration in West Africa, as well as promoting migrants rights and assistance delivery.
“Free movement of persons is the pillar of regional integration. We are trying to promote free movement and mobility of population around the ECOWAS peace.
“The call of proposal towards the non-actors permits them to inform the population about their rights on free movement in the sub-region.
“ECOWAS citizens have the right to move from one country to another country without visa and also they need ECOWAS Biometric Card to travel in the sub region.
“Some of them do not know about the provision of protocol of free movement, which is the reason why EU and ECOWAS joined their hands to support non-actors so that they will communicate with the population on the protocol of free movement.“
The director explained that the fund would be accessed by duly registered non state actors like non-governmental organisations, trade unions, business groups, traders and transporters syndicates, media organisations as well as migrant associations.
He listed some of the areas which the funds would tackle to include free movement of persons, cross-border cooperation, protection of migrants and empowerment of migrant workers.
Others are re-integration of returning migrants, gender and migration within the ECOWAS sub-region.
N’faly said that the fund would also assist non-actors to promote active engagement in information and protection activities for the benefits of migrants and cross-border populations across ECOWAS and Mauritania.
The Programme Manager of IOM, Ms Geertrui Lanneau, said that the selection process for the non-state actors to be involved in the project would be dependent on the quality of their proposals.
According to her, the disbursement of the fund will commence in January 2016.
“Today we are launching a call for proposals for non-state actors to engage them in promoting the rights of migrants in West Africa and to support free movement in the region.
“All non-state actors can apply; so we invite them to submit five-page concept note and if the concept note is evaluated positively, they will be invited to submit a full proposal.
“The fund covers all different thematic areas related to migration including also assistance to illegal migrants or victims of trafficking.
“The selection of the proposals will be done by an evaluation committee. This committee is under the lead of the ECOWAS Commission.
“So it is the ECOWAS Commission together with the FMM West Africa programme that will select the proposals that will receive funding.
“We do not have a specific number of countries. We are looking at the geographical balance.
“We hope that all member states will benefit from this fund; but ultimately, it will also depend on the quality of the proposals.“
The President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders, Mr Ken Ukoha described the project as “a step in the right direction“.
Ukoha, who is a participant in the programme, called on ECOWAS to improve its sensitisation effort on the project to enable ECOWAS citizens to be better educated on issues of migration.
He said that the association would come up with a means of accessing the fund to help sensitise ECOWAS member states.
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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the project has a budget of 26 million euros and a five-year timeline to support West Africa at regional, national and local levels. (NAN)
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