WORKING GROUP ON RETURN AND REINTEGRATION
The Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) Thematic Working Group (TWG) on Return and Reintegration brings together a network of officials involved in the management of return, readmission, and reintegration of migrants in West Africa.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has assisted in the voluntary return to West Africa of over 5,000 migrants. The working group recognizes that the scale of this trend requires a coordinated effort to bring together governmental authorities to discuss return policies and mechanisms.
The TWG annually reviews and discusses regional initiatives on return and reintegration, such as assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programs and migration flow management, lessons learned, best practices and the set-up of a monitoring and evaluation system.
The general objective of this TWG is to analyze the baseline situation of the return, readmission and reintegration processes in the ECOWAS Member States. It also identifies specific challenges and/or weaknesses and the concrete steps towards improving coordination among key actors. Finally, it also works on strengthening the migrant assistance and sustainable reintegration frameworks.
Migration is a paramount factor in the economic growth of West Africa, and the free movement area among the ECOWAS Member States is intended to ensure the fulfillment of the Region’s economic potentials. IOM believes that AVRR is beneficial not only to returning migrants, but also communities of origin and transit. By offering a humane and dignified return, together with a tailor-made reintegration package, IOM ensures that return is more sustainable for the returnee and for the receiving community. On top of this, the voluntary return can alleviate the pressure posed on transit and destination countries in the management of irregular migration flows.
This working group is organized under the Free Movement and Migration (FMM) in West Africa project, funded by the European Union and ECOWAS and the Protecting Vulnerable Migrants in West and Central Africa, funded by the Government of the United States of America.
STANDARDS OF ASSISTANCE AND PROTECTION FRAMEWORK FOR RETURNING MIGRANTS
- Harmonize standards for voluntary return and reintegration;
- Harmonize standards for assistance and reintegration for vulnerable groups of migrants;
- Encourage availability of escort services and temporary guardianship for vulnerable migrants (single women, victims of trafficking or smuggling, unaccompanied minors, older migrants, persons with disabilities, migrants in need of medical assistance,..);
- Establish common priority criteria for assistance to vulnerable migrants (single women, VOT, unaccompanied minors, older migrants, persons with disabilities, migrants in need of medical assistance,..);
- Encourage West African countries to have a referral mechanism in place for returns of VOT (in coordination with the ECOWAS TIP unit and TIP regional network);
- Harmonize the PON for managing post-arrival assistance of forced returned migrants;
Encourage the West African States, in relation with host countries, to adopt and enforce the Conventions relating to the portability of rights for migrant workers;
- Strengthen the legal framework related to the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants;
- Establishment of an ECOWAS emergency fund to facilitate the return and reintegration of migrants;
- Sign agreements with airlines to facilitate the transport of migrants in distress;
- Encourage ECOWAS member countries to contribute to addressing this vulnerability;
- Promote sustainable reintegration through information, awareness-raising and professional qualification of young people;
- Deconstruct preconceived notions about decent work and formalize the informal sector by providing them with a minimum of protection;
- Ensure the technical and professional qualification of young people;
- Facilitate the subscription to social security in order to ensure their medical coverage; and
- Encourage workers to subscribe to pension funds in order to receive a retirement pension.
CONSULAR ASSISTANCE AND ISSUANCE OF TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
- Standardize procedures for verification of countries of origin for voluntary return;
- Facilitate and support field consular visits, through State and non-State departments, to detention centers in countries of destination/transit for data collection/verification;
- Facilitate consular registration of migrants to expedite the issue of travel documents;
- Encourage thinking on identity verification procedures in host and transit countries for the processing and issuance of travel documents;
- Exempt Voluntary humanitarian return beneficiaries from travel documents processing fees; and
- Promote remote consular assistance (ex. Benghazi- Ghana embassy in Tripoli) and the establishment of a remote consular network.
MANAGEMENT AND SHARING OF DATA RELATING TO RETURN AND REINTEGRATION
- Regularly share relevant information while ensuring data protection and integrity;
- Establish a regional information and communication system relating to migration flows and opportunities in terms of reintegration (business opportunity, employment niches, technical and vocational training, business creation including value chains, etc.);
- Establish tracking system for returns by land (mostly are underestimated or not tracked) and by air;
- Establish a system to ensure tracking of migrants who benefited from reintegration services in order to estimate the success of the process; and
- Strengthen communication/coordination between authorities of the countries of origin and consulates in order to provide a range of adequate services.
PREVENTION AND AWARENESS
- Harmonize communication for increased awareness on the risks of irregular migration and the existing opportunities at national and sub-regional level in the States of origin, transit, and destination;
- Return and reintegration information handbook available at all levels (embassies, consulates, economic offices, national, local); and
- Territorialize the management of migrants, including a range of tailored services, with the contribution of decentralized services, CSOs, youth and women organizations, opinion leaders.
- Reinforce the ECOWAS role in the coordination between countries of origin, transit, and destination;
- Ensure coordination and synergy of actions with existing regional coordination mechanisms and in particular with the other MIDWA institutions and regional programs;
- Map stakeholders and set up national-level reintegration committees to deal with different aspects of long-term reintegration, including medical/psychosocial care, microcredit, housing and temporary shelter, education, family tracing, foster care, and so on;
- Harmonization of migrant treatment and profiling procedures as well as training tools on standard operational procedures and intervention strategies; and
- Strengthen the return and reintegration mechanism and create a website on migration in each Member State.