The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday inaugurated a 100,000 euros non-State Actors Project Fund to support and protect the rights of migrants in member states.
ECOWAS’ Director of Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Sanoh N’faly said at the inauguration in Abuja that the project, tagged ‘Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa’ was being jointly funded by the European Union and ECOWAS.
N’faly said that the fund was aimed at maximising the potential for free movement of persons and migration in West Africa, as well as promoting migrants rights and assistance delivery.
“Free movement of persons is the pillar of regional integration. We are trying to promote free movement and mobility of population around the ECOWAS space.
“The call for proposals towards the non-actors permits them to inform the population about their rights to free movement in the sub-region.
“ECOWAS citizens have the right to move from one country to another country without visa and also they need ECOWAS Biometric Card to travel in the Sub-region.
“Some of them do not know about the provision of Protocol on Free Movement, which is the reason why EU and ECOWAS joined their hands to support non-actors so that they will communicate with the population on the Protocol on Free Movement,” he said.
N’faly explained that the Fund would be accessed by duly registered non state actors like non-governmental organisations, trade unions, business groups, traders and transporters syndicates, media organisations as well as migrant associations.
He listed some of the areas which the Fund would tackle to include free movement of persons, cross-border cooperation, protection of migrants and empowerment of migrant workers.
Others are re-integration of returning migrants, gender and migration within the ECOWAS Sub-region.
He said that the Fund would also assist non-actors to promote active engagement in information and protection activities for the benefits of migrants and cross-border populations across ECOWAS and Mauritania.
The Programme Manager of IOM, Geertrui Lanneau, said that the selection process for the non-state actors to be involved in the project would be dependent on the quality of their proposals.
According to her, the disbursement of the fund will commence in January 2016.
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