African Countries Fear Repatriation of Their Migrants

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On Saturday, Libya’s Minister of Labour and Rehabilitation, Ali Al-Abed Al-Reda and Niger’s Minister of Employment and Social Protection, Dr Ibrahim Boukary held a round table meeting with six officials from African Countries.

The meeting, attended by officials from the Labour Ministries of Chad, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal, discussed ways of reaching a consensual approach to improving migration management and concluding memoranda of understanding over African labour recruitment.

This comes against the backdrop of the agreement signed between Libya and Niger on 30 November. This was to ensure the protection of migrant workers by effectively issuing work visas before employment, and better responding to the needs of the Libyan labour market.

During the talks, the African officials expressed their concerns over the return of migrants who had joined criminal organizations. They affirmed their intention to cooperate with Libya by signing bilateral labour agreements that would formally regulate the influx of migrants.

Notably, Federico Soda, Head of Mission for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Libya stated that it is essential to strengthen coordination and cooperation mechanisms in managing migration and African 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.

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 African 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.

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.”