By Chinelo Chikelu, Abuja –
ECOWAS has urged member states to deploy institutional and international mechanisms to combat and prevent Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in the West African region.
The regional body made the call at the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
In a report presented to parliamentarians at the plenary session by the Directorate of Humanitarian and Social Affairs representative, Florence Iheme, special emphasis was placed on the issue of West African migrants in Libya. The commission proposed reinforced support of the Niger government’s initiatives in Agadez, a popular route connecting Niger and Libya, for illegal African migrants to Europe.
According to the report ECOWAS will conduct an immediate fact-finding mission to Libya and surrounding affected countries to determine the number of West African migrants in Libya. However, it pushed for collaboration with other stakeholders such as the African Union (AU), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations Human Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Collaboration with the international organizations it notes gives room for larger and special interventions since Libya is not a West African country but a member of the AU.
Interestingly, while ECOWAS has a full-fledged Counter Trafficking programme, it lacks similar programme to counter ‘migrant smuggling’.
To enhance surveillance at migrant borders, the commission recommends the prevention and intervention of illegal migration from points of origin, and in-transit communities.