14 December 2012

North Africa: Nation Hosts Maghreb Migration Forum

Nouakchott — Human Rights activists from Africa and Europe meet to discuss issues surrounding illegal migration.

Maghreb activists are working together to confront the issue of illegal immigration.

Human rights organisations from Mauritania, Libya, Algeria and Italy recently met in Nouakchott to share their countries' experiences and brainstorm about new methods to cope with the phenomenon.

"The topic of migration is of particular importance because of the way it connects with the protection and advancement of human rights," Mauritanian Commissioner for Human Rights Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Khattra said at the December 6th event.

Mauritania "has ratified the international conventions which deal specifically with migrants' rights, including one which protects the rights of immigrants and their families," he added.

The conference was organised by the Mauritanian Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and its Algerian and Libyan counterparts, and the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR).

Through a comparative analysis of the Mauritanian, Algerian and Libyan experience, in addition to input from Italy, participants focused on developing "a coherent global response to dealing with migratory flows at the regional level", CNDH President Bamariam Baba Koita told Magharebia.

"The workshop focused on the current state of national legislation to promote fair and legal conditions to protect the dignity of migrants and their family members in the countries taking part," he added.

The Italian refugee council chief, Gino Barsella, added: "The workshop has enabled us to arrive at a shared understanding of the challenges presented by immigration based on the experiences of participant States in dealing with this problem."

Algeria's National Consultative Committee for the Advancement and Protection of Human Rights (CNCPPDH) called for a "more regional than bilateral" approach.

"This regional approach must involve both the source countries and those on the northern shores of the Mediterranean, indeed all European countries," the group's president said.

"This would most likely highlight and improve understanding of the issue of mixed migratory flows, whether driven by an economic imperative to cross borders, or driven by the quest for international protection, as is currently the case for refugees from Mali and Syria", Yasmina Taya added.

The collaborative approach to the immigration crisis was launched 18 months ago. The EU-backed initiative includes conferences and visits to refugee camps.

The project is also supported by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), the CIR, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Union of Italian Lawyers for the Defence of Human Rights (UJI).

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