Item 11 – Panel discussion: Mobility dynamics in the Sahel
Chair, Director General, Excellences and Distinguished Delegates,
I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Migration movements in the region are a long‑standing phenomenon and integral part of West African societies. Substantial migrant populations reside in many countries of the region, in addition many often move just seasonally, but most importantly these migration movements are first and foremost intra-regional, with almost 90-95% of all migrants moving within West Africa.
The Sahel and Lake Chad region face many challenges linked to poverty, lack of stability and economic fragility. This is further exacerbated by climate change in a region where more than 80% of the population relies essentially on agriculture and pastoral activities. Trafficking in human beings, smuggling of migrants, together with other illicit trafficking activities, are imbedded in the functioning of the informal economy. We need to increase efforts to disrupt this business-model. More recently, conflict and security challenges increasingly linked to non-state armed groups attacking civilians have caused more displacement, both internal and across borders and led to spill over effects in the neighbouring countries.
Following the Valletta summit on migration, the EU has established the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) to address the root causes of instability, irregular migration and forced displacement. Among our various partners, IOM is a major one in the implementation of the EU Trust Fund actions focused on strengthening migration management and preventing irregular migration. This is on top of long-standing development aid provided through the European Development Fund.
The EU and IOM have been working in partnership in Sahel for many years covering humanitarian interventions, assisted voluntary returns and reintegration, capacity building in migration related aspects of state- and non-state actors in migration governance, such as strengthening migration data and communication on migratory movements. Sahel/Lake Chad region benefits from over a hundred programmes summing up to almost €1.9 billion from EU institutions, EU Member States and other donors.
Just to mention one example: the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration has supported African partners efforts and actions enabling the rescue of over 23.000 stranded migrants in the Nigerien desert, and the voluntary return and reintegration of over 68.000 migrants in the Sahel returning from Libya and Niger.
To provide a common response to major cross‑border threats and regional development needs, the EU and its Member States are committed to support the efforts of the G5 Sahel countries (Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Mauritania) and of the whole Sahel Region continuing its cooperation at regional and national level.
Thank you, Chair.