The free movement of people and goods in the ECOWAS region: a commission to equip stakeholders in the far west of Burkina Faso

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration and Burkina Faso Abroad is organizing, on October 21 and 22, 2021 in Bobo Dioulasso, a commission on the free movement of people and goods in the context of mixed movements in the ECOWAS region. This meeting is held for the benefit of stakeholders from the Upper Basin, Matalal and Southwest regions.

This committee aims to promote respect for the protection needs of people on the move in the ECOWAS region. This, according to applicable community rules. During two working days, the participants in this session will get acquainted with the realities of implementing the principle of free movement of people and goods in the field.

They will identify solutions to reduce the anomalies that impede free movement in the ECOWAS region, in order to link the fluidity of the movement of people within the region and the migration pressure on the external borders of the Economic Community of West African States. In addition, this session will also help in strengthening their administrative capacity and protection of migrants in the ECOWAS region.

Actors of implementing texts on the free movement of people and goods at a training workshop in Bobo Dioulasso

The opening ceremony was held on Thursday, October 21. The meeting was chaired by the Minister Delegate for African Integration and Burkina Faso Abroad, represented by her Technical Adviser, Regis Kevin Bakyono. The latter indicated in his speech that this meeting, which is intended as an awareness-raising, training and information framework, is an opportunity to learn about ECOWAS normative and legal frameworks in matters of migration and displacement.

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“This commission aims to strengthen the capacities of the various actors that intervene in the chain of control, assistance and protection of the various people who are on the move and displacement in the space of our society, so that all these actors have the tools. They are essential in the performance of their duties,” explained Kevin Pacino.

Regis Kevin Bakyono, Technical Adviser to the Minister Responsible for African Integration

According to him, ECOWAS has made African integration one of the main aspects of its societal policy. The free movement of people and goods is an essential element that promotes regional and peoples integration. He said that we must therefore think and act on mechanisms that promote the free movement of people and goods. This also amounts to strengthening existing mechanisms in this area for African integration.

Strengthening the capacities of actors involved in implementing texts

The team was organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At this ceremony, UNHCR was represented by Tony Tomago, director of its office in Bobo Dioulasso. He noted that his organization has always supported Burkina Faso in its migration process that respects the rights and protection of migrants.

According to him, this meeting is part of the implementation of the action plan resulting from the recommendations formulated during the 2017 Regional Conference in Dakar.

Tony Tomago, Director of the UNHCR office in Bobo Dioulasso

“The Dakar symposium resulted in seven recommendations, one of which is information, and awareness-raising among actors such as the Syrian Democratic Forces, civil society organizations and other people with experience, on the topic of freedom of movement of people, especially the identification of people in need of protection. In this sense, we support The government of Burkina Faso is in the process of implementing an action plan resulting from these recommendations. This justifies the holding of this panel,” explained Tony Tomago.

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Indeed, at the end of the Regional Symposium on “Asylum and Mixed Migration Movements in West Africa”, held in Dakar in December 2017, a number of recommendations were made to ECOWAS member states over a period of three years. To implement these recommendations in Burkina Faso, an action plan covering the period from 2019 to 2021 has been developed.

Family photo of the participants at the closing ceremony

This action plan should allow training of first contact authorities, civil society organizations (CSOs), and opinion leaders, in issues of free movement of people and goods, and facilitate their reliance on ECOWAS immigration and displacement normative frameworks and laws. [ Cliquez ici pour lire l’intégralité ]

Romuald Dauphiny

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