Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Deputy Regional Rep. OHCHR/WARO Calls on African Leaders to Commit Political Will in Addressing Migration

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By: Alieu Jallow

Benjamin Hounton, Deputy Regional Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the West African Regional Office, called on African leaders on Monday, 13th May, to demonstrate substantial political will in addressing migration. He made these remarks during the closing ceremony of a three-day NGOs forum held in participation with the 79th session of the African Commission for People’s and Human Rights preceding its 79th ordinary session.

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Mr. Hounton noted that the level of political will demonstrated by Africa’s leaders in addressing migration falls short of what is needed, and he urged them to take the issue seriously.

“We urge our governments to prioritize migration as a critical issue by demonstrating strong political will and supporting youth and children so they can thrive in Africa without feeling compelled to migrate,” he emphasized.

The UNOHCR representative stressed the importance of harmonizing strategies in addressing migration, pointing out that while many actors are involved in migration issues, the lack of coordination hinders their efforts.

“The need to harmonize our efforts is crucial. This forum serves to strengthen the work of all stakeholders involved in migration strategies, including networking to mobilize resources, not just financial but also advocating at the political level to persuade our leaders to find better solutions to migration,” he outlined.

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Mr. Houghton highlighted that the OHCHR office and its UN partners are supporting the NGOs Forum to enhance advocacy, lobbying, and networking among human rights NGOs, as well as between these organizations and other stakeholders, to advance human rights in Africa.

“The Forum allows the African and global NGO community to assess challenges and devise effective strategies. It also aims to enhance cooperation among NGOs operating within the African Commission and other human rights mechanisms throughout Africa.”

The Deputy Regional Representative OHCHR/WARO emphasized that the NGO Forum provides a unique opportunity for the UN Regional Network on Migration to engage with diverse civil society representatives, strengthening their engagement on migration issues, including child rights and gender issues in mobility contexts. This ensures that civil society representatives raise human rights concerns related to these topics within the ACHPR session and their work in their respective countries.

“Through the PROMIS project (a joint initiative of UNODC and OHCHR), OHCHR and UNODC, in coordination with the regional UN Network on Migration and the PAPEV project on children’s rights, support stakeholders’ efforts to address human rights challenges faced by migrants at all stages of their journeys. This includes focusing on women’s rights in migration and child mobility in West Africa.”

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The event concluded with an advocacy working dinner attended by 150 African NGO leaders and the UN, aimed at focusing on the rights of women and children in migration contexts. The objectives included raising awareness on human rights issues related to migration and child mobility, identifying key challenges, highlighting strategies, building synergies for civil society contributions to migrant protection, and advocating for the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement while addressing related violations.

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