On April 12, 2021, the closing webinar of the project “Towards a shared governance of migration: promoting the integration of migrants in the cities of Rabat and Oujda (Morocco)” was held. Started in January 2021, the series of webinars organized by UCLG Africa and IOM in partnership with the municipalities of Rabat and Oujda has highlighted the central role that local authorities play in the management of migration and national associations of migrants as front-line actors in this management. About a hundred participants took part in the closing meeting of the project funded by the Municipality of Madrid (Spain) and implemented by IOM Morocco and its partners.
The opening remarks were made by Mr. Ettayeb El Masbahi, Vice-President of the Regional Council of the Oriental, Mr. Omar Hjira, Mayor of Oujda, Mrs. Sabah Boucham, Deputy Mayor of the City of Rabat, Mr. Ahmed Skim, Director of Migration, Representative of the Ministry Delegate for Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation, and Moroccans living abroad, Ms. Ana Fonseca, Head of the IOM Morocco Mission, Ms. María Jesús Guerra, representative of the Head of Mission of IOM Spain, and Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.
In addition to sharing the experience of the cities of Rabat and Oujda on their actions towards migrants during COVID, the cities of Dakar and Kaolack in Senegal also presented the actions they have implemented.
In Rabat, emphasis was placed on psychological support for migrants, and in particular for pregnant women. Support was also provided in terms of access to basic services. Sensitization targeted small and medium-sized enterprises for the hiring of migrant staff.
In Oujda, we note the intervention of the administrative police to ensure compliance with the lockdown and sanitary measures , and the strengthening of the municipality’s actions in the field of green spaces.
For the city of Dakar, with the onset of the pandemic, the response was organized to unify a series of humanitarian and social actions on behalf of populations, including migrants. The town hall notably targeted schools, markets and bus stations. The city of Dakar has made 150,000 Euros available to the central Government, equipped hospitals, and rehabilitated a health center.
On the Kaolack side, it was no longer a question of taking care of households whose head of the family is an immigrant and in some cases, households that recorded the return to the country of the head of the family because of the pandemic .
Towards a multi-player network s for better management of migrants at local level
The second part of the workshop was used for the presentation of the Charter of African Local and Subnational Governments on Migration, the mapping of migration actors in Africa developed by UCLG Africa, and the IOM toolbox developed as part of the project.
The Charter of African Local Authorities on Migration was adopted in Marrakech in 2018 on the sidelines of the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration which was also put in place in Marrakech.
As part of the project “Towards a shared migration governance”, a mapping of the different actors acting on the ground has been drawn up by UCLG Africa, which has retained migration among the 7 main intervention themes of its 2021- action plan. 2030. This document provides a referral to the various stakeholders, including migrant associations, who now benefit from a showcase to build synergies of actions. 32 organization files are already on the platform (link). The “Maroc Solidarité Médico-Sociale MS.2” association, which participated in the webinar through its president Mr. Tarik Oufkir, is included in the database.
The IOM Toolkit developed as part of the project includes 7 points that highlight the efforts deployed at the global level by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as part of the global response to the pandemic of COVID-19. The Toolkit also includes contributions from a few other international actors with the aim of strengthening the capacities of territorial actors for the planning and implementation at the local level of coherent reference frameworks for migration.
The program piloted by UCLG Africa and IOM was appreciated by the migrant associations involved in the process. As evidenced by the words of Mr. Serge Aimé Guemou, President of the Council of Sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco association: “The exchange of experience made it possible to understand the gaps that we once had in exchanges with partners. We have been fully involved in the process and we are satisfied with our position. I would like to extend my thanks to IOM and UCLG Africa “.
For Ms. Ana Fonseca, Head of Mission of IOM Morocco, the program was an excellent tool to “consolidate and facilitate the sharing of experiences and reflect on initiatives that involve all this international cooperation. This is essential to manage migration issues. I am glad to have had contributions from African cities on sharing their practical initiatives. The project has stimulated and consolidated tools that can be used “.used ” .
Ms. María Jesús Guerra, Representative of the Head of Mission of IOM Spain: “Local authorities are the main actors in migration. The Pact on Migration calls for a comprehensive approach to migration. It is a great privilege to work on this project on strengthening local capacities for shared governance ” .
Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi , Secretary General of UCLG Africa, said: “I am particularly pleased with the holding of this meeting to capitalize on and share experience on the involvement of local authorities in migration management. I would like to stress how the term shared migration governance is quite appropriate to describe the lived experience around the management of migration in the cities of Oujda and Rabat. UCLG Africa is deeply convinced of the importance of involving local authorities in the management of migration and is working for the ratification by national Governments of the Charter of African local and subnational governments on Migration. The first point of contact of migrants are the communities in which they settle during their mobility journey. The first public authorities they have to deal with are the local public authorities. Most of the associations that intervene in support of migrants are established locally and some of them benefit from grants from local authorities in support of their activities. It is therefore quite logical that local governments are required to deal with migration management. It is undoubtedly necessary to change this de facto intervention towards a de jure intervention in the perspective of a partnership between the three levels of Moroccan local and subnational governments o that migration is approached according to the principle of multilevel governance and active subsidiarity. The experience carried out in Oujda and Rabat shows that the establishment of a migration office within the municipality is likely to facilitate the identification of migrants, whether they are in a regular situation or not, which is particularly important in times of health crisis, as is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic, so as to organize the fight against the spread and support the most needy. Indeed, any weak link in the struggle front weakens the overall effectiveness of the struggle. The establishment of a platform for sharing information between all stakeholders allows for better synergy between them and better targeting of the support to be provided in order to avoid duplication of efforts and also to avoid forgetting certain migrants”
The full webinar is available here