2nd meeting of the Migrations Alliance

The 2nd meeting of the Migrations Alliance network, supported by the OCU and ANVITA, was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from January 26 to 27, in order to discuss the actions of the Alliance and share good practices of reception and integration of migrants.

This meeting brought together about 130 participants from different countries in Europe, America and Africa. For the African continent, civil society organizations and some African elected officials made the trip, including local elected officials from Agadez, Zinder and Ourno (Niger), Gao (Mali), Mbour (Senegal), Sfax and Sousse (Tunisia), as well as Namibia and Mauritania. The various delegations were welcomed for the work of this 2nd meeting in the NOVA University of Lisbon, where the organizers have planned 2 days of intensive work.

During the first day, the opening speeches recalled the ambitions of the Alliance: to help develop another governance of migration, with a multi-actor approach taking into account the presence of local actors (local authorities, civil society and migrants’ associations).

The first round table brought together local authorities from Africa, Europe and America on the one hand, and civil society actors from the three continents on the other, to discuss alternative migrant reception policies. The mayor of Fontenay-Sous-Bois (France) called on local actors to think about reception in the long term, and not just in the context of emergency, by including housing and education issues. The deputy mayor of Gao, who took part in the exchange, especially highlighted the efforts of local authorities along the migration routes in terms of reception and management of migrants. The theme of mobility and more particularly that of freedom of movement was central during this first day. The representatives of the African civil society did not fail to recall the issue of the African Union passport which has become a taboo topic, the existence of migrant camps and the criminalization of migration in some States.

The organization of 3 parallel workshops allowed to deepen the themes raised in the opening session: the unconditional access to rights, the positive discourses around migration and interculturality, and the political and citizen participation. Several experiences were highlighted, including the reception policy of the city of Grenoble and the synergies it creates with citizen associations and migrant associations. UCLG Africa, for its part, highlighted the celebrations of the program “Rabat, African Capital of Culture”, and the training provided to migrants with the Moroccan Network of Social and Solidarity Economy in Salé (REMESS), to encourage regularized migrants to seek employment and create income generating activities.

The second day brought solutions and called for concrete actions to be taken by the Alliance stakeholders. This day allowed the construction of a common agenda for the members of the Alliance. To do so, 3 parallel workshops representing the work axes were organized: advocacy, awareness and network strengthening.

For advocacy organization purposes, the participants reflected on 3 axes. Concerning the advocacy plan, the participants proposed to organize regional meetings in Africa, Europe and South America. UCLG Africa and the Maghreb-Sahel Migration Network will carry the initiative on the continent. To this end, the two partners will organize by July 2023 a meeting between African local authorities and civil society on relevant issues related to the Alliance’s agenda.

For the awareness axis, the participants agreed on the creation of a “welcome week” during which, the stakeholders (cities and civil society organizations) will talk about “solidarity, participation and interculturality”. The modalities of organization of this “welcome week” will be discussed by the members and the carriers of the initiative. The participants also talked about the creation of an inhabitant card to give access to migrants but also to vulnerable citizens to their rights.

For the strengthening of the Alliance, the members will rely on the different focal points of the network on the continents. The participants advocated mutual support and solidarity between the members of the Alliance on the different agendas.