-IOM Program Manager and Country Focal Person, Diallo, discloses
The Program Manager and Country Focal Person at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) based in Monrovia, Mohammed Cherif Diallo, says Liberia is now playing a leading role as an exit point for migrants who are journeying from their home countries with the dream of settling in other parts of the world.
“The situation is so dire and is causing the country to lose human capital to the cycle of irregular migration,” Diallo said, stressing that in order to stop this, the government and international organizations will have to fight poverty, illiteracy, and ignorance through conscious practical policy and legal framework.
“And since most of these irregular migrants are young people, emphasis will have to be placed on youth empowerment,” Diallo suggested.
Diallo also said that his organization has repatriated more than 2,000 Liberian migrants that were stranded in the Sahara Desert since 2017 up to the present.
He gave the revelation when he spoke at a one-day national roundtable discussion on international and regional migration, causes and effects, and the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States’ Protocol on the free movement of persons.
The roundtable discussion held at the Corina Hotel in Monrovia was hosted by the National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia (NACCSOL) and was jointly funded by the European Union (EU), ECOWAS and the IOM.
He urged Liberian to stay back home and build their nation. According to him, only Liberians can build Liberia.
Diallo also used the opportunity to encourage the government to create a better environment for the youths to thrive and foster development because, according to him, between 30 to 40 percent of the country’s population is youth.
“Liberia is changing and 30 to 40 percent of the population is youthful. These young people have the responsibility to build Liberia. I want you to build a new Liberia where nobody will decide your future, but you have to take up the responsibility,” Diallo challenged the country’s youthful population.
“You are the one to develop Liberia and I believe it is good for your country because if the country did not succeed, Africa will not succeed. When this happens, it will reduce the problem of illegal migration,” the IOM head of mission stressed during the gathering.
Often times, Diallo said, when people leave Africa, they don’t think of home, and this hampers innovations in Africa. If all the talents that leave Africa were pooled together, there would be a lot of positive developments.
Another factor complicating the issue of border crossing is Liberian membership of ECOWAS. The ECOWAS founding principle is to create a borderless region where citizens of member countries can move freely throughout the sub-region without the need for visas.
However, Diallo wonders as to why most of Liberia’s borders are not secure, which he believes is giving rise to illegal migration, stressing, “Securing your border is very much important to tackling the mass exodus of migration that the country is experiencing.”
Also commenting, a proxy of the US Ambassador Christine Elder, Thomas Quaye, assured the coalition of the US Embassy’s commitment to working with the civil society organizations to formulate a strategy in the fight against illegal migration.
Lydia M. Sherman, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Protection at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) called for collaborative efforts if the country would be successful in tackling illegal migration.
Early, Cecil B. Grifiths, Project Coordinator of NACCSOL, reminded his colleagues that a single organization would not help if the country would make meaningful successes in the fight against trafficking and illegal migration.
He also called for collaborative efforts with the IOM and the ECOWAS community for the implementation of the ECOWAS protocols regarding the free movement of people.
The roundtable mainly focused on several issues that include the role of the Liberia National Police in combating trafficking in persons; role of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) in the implementation of the ECOWAS protocols on human trafficking and combating trafficking in persons; and the role of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in mitigating trafficking of women and children and mitigating child abuse and child labor.
Other issues included the challenges in the implementation of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, residence, and establishment, the African Union strategy for mitigating illegal migration to Europe, supporting national initiative in combating trafficking in persons especially trafficking of women and children, and the role of the civil society in supporting efforts to combat trafficking in persons and promoting the ECOWAS protocols on free movement.