Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA), Mauritania, 6-8 October 2015

Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA), Mauritania, 6-8 October 2015

Odile Inauen, Deputy Head of the Global Programme on Migration and Development, SDC, Berne


The MIDWA Experts and Ministerial Meetings took place in Nouakchott, Mauritania, from 6 to 8 October 2015. The topic of this year was “Irregular Migration: Challenges and Solutions”. Switzerland has been supporting the MIDWA for several years and took an active role to ensure that MIDWA is fully integrated within ECOWAS Commission – Direction of Free Movement. The European Union is currently giving a financial and logistical support to MIDWA via a consortium of IOM/ICMPD and ILO.

The topic for this year was chosen by ECOWAS in the context of the current migration crisis in the Mediterranean, and discussing this topic helped the ECOWAS Commission and Member States to develop a joint position in preparation for the Migration Summit of Valetta in Malta, planned for November 2015. During discussions, it was reiterated that it is essential to get the numbers right. The vast majority (80-90%) of the migration in West Africa happens within the region. Therefore, there are significantly less migrants arriving from West Africa to Europe than from Syria, Afghanistan or Eritrea.

Several recommendations were made to ECOWAS Members States plus Mauritania. These include: improve the fight against migrants’ smugglers, ensure full respect for the human rights of migrants, establish a national migration dialogue in each Member State, or support the implementation of the new ECOWAS biometric identity card. Participants also discussed the current situation in Agadez, Niger, through which many migrants are transiting. If a center for stranded migrants in Agadez has to be established, ECOWAS should be closely involved.

It was clear during MIDWA 2015 that Switzerland is a privileged partner of the ECOWAS Directorate of Free Movement. Our approach of closed partnership appears to be fruitful. We will continue to support MIDWA, in particular through our Technical Adviser to ECOWAS and our Regional Adviser on Migration and Development. Our engagement helps ensure that this dialogue platform can be followed up by concrete actions for synergies between migration and development in the West Africa region.

For more information, please see the reports of the MIDWA 2015:

   ECOWAS common position on Irregular migration for Malta Summit
   Final Report: Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) – Experts’ Meeting – 6-7 October 2015
   Final Report: Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) – Ministerial Meeting – 8 October 2015

Documents également disponibles en français:

    Eléments de contribution à la formulation d’une position commune de la CEDEAO sur la migration irrégulière pour le somment de Malte.
   Rapport final : Dialogue sur les migrations en Afrique de l’Ouest (MIDWA) – Réunion des Experts – 6-7 Octobre 2015
   Rapport final : Dialogue sur les migrations en Afrique de l’Ouest (MIDWA) – Réunion Ministérielle – 8 Octobre 2015