Libya-Niger Seek to Regularise Labour Migration

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On Tuesday, Libya and Niger signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to protect migrant workers through effective visa issuance before their employment, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

The IOM noted in a report on the nature of migration dynamics between Libya, Chad, and Niger, that crossing the Sahara Desert is one of the world’s most perilous migration journeys.

“The migration routes are remote and vehicle breakdown and the threats from bandits are frequent. Migrants often travel spontaneously, following in the footsteps of centuries of migration before them, often with no documents or legal status,” the report explained.

The MoU is considered as a step towards regularizing labour migration, and to better respond to Libya’s labour market needs.

“Bilateral collaboration plays a key role in promoting the labour rights of Nigerian migrants in Libya, to improve their working conditions, and thereby to facilitate the remittances to their communities of origin and contribute to the development of their home country through remittances,” said Barbara Rijks, Chief of Mission of the IOM in Niger.

“It will also contribute to combat migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, and promote safe and regular migration pathways,” she added.

Chief of the IOM Mission for Libya, Federico Soda said it is essential to strengthen coordination and cooperation mechanisms on migration management and labour mobility across borders.

“There are more than 600,000 international migrants in Libya, with Nigerian nationals the most prominent group at 20%,” Soda noted. “They play a pivotal role in supplying a critical workforce in the Libyan economy and contribute to the development of their home country through remittances,” he added.

In response to these risks, IOM has closely worked with the Libyan and Nigerian governments to strengthen their capacities in labour migration, migration data, and migrant protection.

The IOM has also acted as a facilitator to “enhance policy and active dialogue and international cooperation mechanisms on labour mobility to foster partnership and support legal frameworks that will protect migrant worker rights.”

It has also supported the organization of a roundtable meeting between Libya’s Labour Minister and his counterparts from Chad, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. Building on the experience from Niger, it aims to foster dialogue and pave the way towards establishing a framework of international cooperation in labour mobility between Libya and key countries of origin. 

These events are financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Protection Programme (RDPP), and supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Libya.