Migration policy advice
Title: Migration policy advice in Niger
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2017 to 2020
Niger's geographical location makes it an important transit land for migrants from West and Central Africa heading for North Africa and Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration, over 300,000 people used Niger as a transit country from February to June 2016. Most of them came from Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia, Mali and other West African nations. As there are no legal migration routes to the north from Niger, the migrants pay large sums to people smugglers and are often subjected to human rights violations. Particularly in the less developed north of the country, places such as Agadez, Arlit and Dirkou are way stations for migrants. They are also places where voluntary or deported returnees from neighbouring countries collect. Attacks by Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria on the border with Niger led to expulsion and return of Niger citizens.
Niger signed the free movement protocols of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1979. The vast majority of migration in the Sahel region, estimated at around 80 per cent, takes place within this area, is often seasonal, and mostly has a long tradition or culture of (labour) migration.
Advice for a holistic migration policy based on human rights and designed for sustainable success has to take into account all these forms of migration.
Coordinated and holistic migration policy, well-networked actors and political entities working together in coordination contribute towards handling the effects of migration.
The project operates at the national level, with the focus on providing advice – such as needs-oriented legal advice on international migration – and on promoting sustainable national steering structures to encourage greater coherence.
The project supports the efforts of the Government of Niger and other partners and donors to develop a national migration strategy in an interministerial committee and in broad-based dialogue forums with civil society. A key topic is the interface between migration and development.
Networking and advisory activities will be accompanied by further training for experts and senior officers in the ministries, primarily at national level. Themes include legal aspects of international migration and the risks and opportunities created by migration for development.
The project has reactivated the Interministerial Committee on Migration (Comité Interministériel chargé de l’élaboration du Document de Politique Nationale de Migration – CIM), which has the task of formulating national migration policy.
A kick-off workshop with all relevant state and non-state actors initiated a participatory process of dialogue and reflection; one of the results of this process was the division of CIM into six thematic subcommittees. These subcommittees are being supported and assisted by the project in conducting an analysis of individual migration-related issues that will serve as the foundation for future migration policy.
Networking within civil society and with the National Commission on Human Rights has also been supported by the project. This has led to the founding of the Migration, Development, Human Rights network (Réseau Migration–Développement–Droits Humains – REMIDDH). The setting-up of this network is an important prerequisite to allow civil society representatives to coordinate their activities prior to CIM meetings and to establish joint positions.
In addition, the project supported the participation of a number of CIM members in study trips, which has helped to initiate important networking links at a regional level. For example, the participants in the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development (Rabat Process) in Morocco have decided to try to become members of the Steering Committee of the Rabat Process.