Promotion for the drafting of the World Charter of Migrants in Africa
by Hicham Rachidi
popularity : 79%
The final declaration from the Conference of West African Civil Societies on Migration and Development, which was held in Dakar on 12-14 October, launched an appeal to Euro-African civil society organizations to help promote the drafting of the World Charter of Migrants and to reinforce the efforts of migrants and their organizations.
The Conference provided an opportunity for presenting the World Charter for Migrants initiative to participants from Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cape Verde, Cameroon and Gambia, together with migrants from France, Belgium and Germany.
The meeting in Dakar coincided with the 4th anniversary of the terrible incidents at Ceuta and Melilla in 2005 which ended with the killing of at least 14 migrants simply because they tried to climb over a mesh fence. Morocco’s involvement in “migration flow management” policies has been much criticized.
The participants discussed the consequences of these “migration flow management” policies and the mobilization of considerable resources for implementing such policies, which in Africa have been subjected to takeovers by NGOs working on development projects. Millions of euros are distributed to actors working on solidarity projects, officially to help with “development” in priority countries (AENEAS, Migration-Development), but are in fact used for the organization of campaigns to ‘inform’ and dissuade people from ‘emigrating’.
This leads, on the one hand, to the perversion of development aid and, on the other, to the corruption of civil society representatives who consequently become actors of obstruction, rather than of change. Indeed, civil society representatives in the South are carrying out tasks usually attributed to police officers serving the murderous politicians who have caused and continue to cause terrible tragedies. The participants at the Dakar Conference, aware of the stakes involved, stressed the importance of challenging these policies. The Final Declaration (see appendix to this document) is proof of a sincere commitment to the launch of a massive mobilization of the South to counteract these externalization policies.
The members of the World Charter of Migrants Coordination Team held a number of meetings in order to present the Charter and the drafting process and to establish an African coordination team. Davina Ferrera, Jelloul Ben Hamida and Hicham Rachidi met with migrants living in West Africa, many of whom are committed to international solidarity programmes in various African countries.
A first meeting was held with people who could become members of the World Charter of Migrants African Coordination Team. As people who could take the role of ‘resource members’, they are involved in international militant networks and have taken up the call from the International Coordination Team: Sarah Klingeberg (Italy/Germany/Senegal), Gwenaëlle de Jaquelot (France/Senegal/Mali), Oumo Zé (Belgium/Burkina Faso), Amadou Mbow (Mauritania/Senegal), Oussmane Diarra (Mali/Senegal), Lamine Niass (Senegal/Mauritania), Hicham Rachidi (Morocco/France), Davina Ferrera (Algeria/Spain/France), and Jelloul Ben Hamida (Tunisia/France).
A second meeting was held with Sedikki Daff, an activist working with the Alliance for a New Governance in Africa and also with migrants in shantytowns in the Dakar area (2,000,000 inhabitants). He told us of his concerns about the associative, or ‘alternative’, approach in Senegal (see the first part of this report). Mr Sedikki’s concerns were echoed by Liamine Niass who works with the collective of traditional fishermen and who, despite his efforts in Senegal, is systematically excluded by the ‘cartel’ that controls the associative networks in Senegal.
These two activists reassured us that they are prepared to participate in promoting and supporting the World Charter of Migrants campaign in Africa.
A visit to the Island of Gorée and proposed meeting of the World Coordination Team in 2011 in this symbolic site, in order to continue the coordination work on existing proposals
The Island of Gorée is a key site commemorating the slave trade as it was one of the departure points for slave ships to America and other countries. The Coordination Team for the World Charter of Migrants believes that the adoption of a unified proposal for the Charter in 2011 (following the drafting process) should take place in this symbolic place where, for many centuries, migrants saw not only their right of speech but also their humanity confiscated.