Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have received a task to investigate the recent influx of refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, and smuggled persons, as well as victims of trafficking and stranded migrants among others in the West Africa sub-region.
ECOWAS has, therefore, been urged to strategise by undertaking a thorough appraisal and analysis of all the factors responsible for such mixed flows of persons.
The permanent representative of Nigeria to the ECOWAS Commission, Babatunde A. Nuredeem, made the call on Monday during the opening of a two-day retreat jointly organised by the ECOWAS and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the ECOWAS, which is ongoing in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.
He tasked the participants at the 2019 ECOWAS ambassadors retreat to come up with lasting and durable solutions aimed at mitigating the scourge in the sub-region if not completely eliminated.
Nuredeem, who doubles as chair of the PRC, noted that the theme of the retreat, ‘Mixed Flows and Durable Solutions in ECOWAS Region’, was apt, relevant and very contemporary which should engage the attention all.
He identified political instability as a major factor that aided the flow of migrants in and out of members’ states of the West Africa sub-region.
His words, “Without any iota of doubt, the political architecture in our sub-region has been responsible for several agitations against marginalization coupled with the tight syndrome of some of our political leaders which eventually lead to incessant outbreaks of restiveness, insurgency, terrorism, intrastate violence in the forms of ethno-religious, political criminal as well as struggle for scarce resources.”
The permanent representative applauded the ECOWAS Commission and the UNHCR for their determination to address myriads of humanitarian problems bedeviling the sub-region with focus on refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and internally displaced persons (IDPs) being common problems in virtually all the countries within the West African sub-region including Nigeria.
Also addressing the occasion, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said the perilous journeys through the desert and the Mediterranean by the migrants had resulted in the loss of lives and enslavement of the people which is a challenge that must be confronted.