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Migration: Since 2016, Senegal Witnessing Increase Departures To Europe

Since 2016, Senegal, a key transit country for many West Africans traveling to Europe is witnessing an increase of departures from its coasts towards Spain.  Thousands of Senegalese also migrate in search of better economic opportunities in Europe.

In 2018, the Western Mediterranean Route (WMR) – from West Africa towards Spain – became the most frequently used route into Europe with over 58,000 arrivals (compared to 5,300 in 2015 and 22,100 in 2017).

Senegal was one of the top West African nationalities of arrivals in 2018, ranking behind Guinea, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and The Gambia.

These facts are coming as the government of Ethiopia formally launched its implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), following a two-day consultation meeting held in the last week of September in Addis Ababa where more than 70 representatives drawn from a wide range of stakeholders met to identify key priorities from the 23 GCM objectives.

Present were government agencies, local and international non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, the media, the United Nations Country Team and the UN Migration Network Secretariat.

This is part of a round of consultations currently being held in countries covered by the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme funded by the European Union. They aim to provide a platform for governments and relevant stakeholders in East Africa to identify and redefine their priorities in the implementation of GCM objectives.

Leul Kahsay, Assistant Attorney General and Head of Office of the Attorney General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, congratulated the National Anti-Trafficking and Smuggling Taskforce and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for organising the meeting, and reaffirmed the government of Ethiopia’s commitment to a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in identifying priorities and developing national plans on migration.

Kahsay said, “Ethiopia was one of the most notable mixed migration countries in the world … in an era of unprecedented mobility, being a country of origin, transit and destination for mixed migrants from the region and from within. Therefore, this consultation will provide a platform for government and other stakeholders to provide inputs into the country’s GCM implementation plan.”

Ethiopia is one of the 152 UN member states that endorsed the first ever GCM to address all aspects of international migration, adopted in December 2018. The country has taken a leading role in the East and Horn of Africa region in adopting policy measures to facilitate regular migration, as well as to address the challenges posed by irregular migration.

The members of the United Nations Network for Migration in Ethiopia (UN MNE), formerly UN Migration Working Group, supported the dialogue by facilitating presentations and moderating discussions.

The UN MNE brings together more than 19 UN agencies, programmes and funds with migration management mandates, and aims to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to the Government of Ethiopia to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration.

Civil society was represented at the consultation by more than ten local and international NGOs working with migrants and internally displaced persons. Their representatives expressed a strong desire to collaborate to ensure Ethiopia’s successful and coherent implementation of the GCM.

As part of a raft of measures to relax the political space in the country, Ethiopia is currently amending the proclamation governing the operations of civil society organizations. Officials from the Attorney General’s office reiterated that the new law would give organizations wider space to contribute.

Jonathan Prentice, coordinator for the UN Migration Network’s Startup Fund for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, explained the aims of the recently established pooled fund, which he said will soon be available to support initiatives in the area of migration management.

The priority GCM objectives and activities identified by delegates are being compiled into a draft report of certain recommendations and will be submitted to the National Anti-Trafficking and Smuggling Taskforce for endorsement.

The Taskforce currently works as the focal structure for migration management issues and will form the basis for establishment of a National Coordination Mechanism on migration in Ethiopia.

In her closing remarks, Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the AU, IGAD and UNECA, commended the Taskforce and IOM for bringing together a variety of actors to define the country’s migration priorities.

However, 46 per cent of the migration flows from Senegal happen within West Africa – mainly to Mauritania, the Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger.

To better understand the phenomenon, the IOM with the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and in collaboration with the government of Senegal and the National Committee for Refugees, Repatriated and Displaced Persons (CNRRPD) presented on September 26 its latest research study on New Migration Dynamics in Senegal.

Irregular migration along the WMR remains a predominantly young male phenomenon (average age of 31 years old). The study reveals that 57 per cent are married and that 36 per cent attended primary school and 31 per cent Koranic school.

Over 70 per cent have monthly incomes of between 50,000 and 150,000 FCFA (between 83 and 250 US dollar), mainly coming from fishing and agriculture. The study also reveals that 45 per cent of people who have taken this route have already tried to migrate.

The study shows that the recent sea departures for Spain do not follow the same pace as the one observed in 2006 when over 41,000 people arrived in Spain (of which 31,000 to the Canary Islands).

However, the recent events confirm that the dangerous conditions in which migrants usually travel and the reinforcement of border controls in the countries of departure, transit and destination, have led to a change of migratory routes explaining the resumption of the Western route, the report says.

“Migration is a constantly evolving phenomenon”, said Bakary Doumbia, IOM Chief of Mission in Senegal. “Today’s workshop shows the importance of better understanding the current migration shifts. Thanks to this type of research, IOM together with the Government of Senegal will be able to contribute to the development of recommendations to ensure migrants’ protection in Senegal and to respond to the phenomenon in the areas of departure and return,” he added.

Among the key recommendations presented at the workshop, IOM stressed the need to strengthen data collection and analysis along the main migration hubs; to raise awareness on the risks of irregular migration at the local level through events organised by community leaders; and to increase the people’s knowledge of legal migration pathways already existing.

The workshop was attended by representatives of the Government of Senegal, including some of the members of the CNRRPD, the Directorate General of External Intelligence (DGRE), the Directorate General of Internal Intelligence (DGRI), the Directorate of Air and Border Police (DPAF), the National Agency for Statistics and Demography (ANSD), the National Anti-Trafficking Unit (CNLTP) and the National Agency for the Promotion of Youth Employment (ANPEJ) and representatives of the Spanish Embassy, the World Bank, NGOs and researchers.

The study was funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development in the framework of the project Safety, Support and Solutions in the Central Mediterranean Route.

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