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Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in West Africa (Dakar, Senegal, 13-14 November 2008)

Migration, 14 November 2008

The "Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in West Africa" was held on 13-14 November 2008 in Dakar, Senegal. It was co-hosted by UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and supported by financing from the European Commission as part of its broader assistance to the development and implementation of the 10-Point Plan of Action on Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration. Additional contributions were received from other donors. The principal objective of the conference was to enhance the response to mixed migration in West Africa through fuller utilization of the existing regional frameworks and processes, in particular the ECOWAS free movement protocols.

Below is a copy of the binder distributed at the conference as well as several documents generated during and after the meeting. All documents are in English and French unless otherwise noted.



  • UNHCR: Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration: A 10-Point Plan of Action [English] [Français]
  • UNHCR's 10-Point Plan in Central America, Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Asia a two year project [English]


  • UNHCR High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges Theme: Refugee Protection, Durable Solutions and International Migration Chairman's Summary (December 12, 2007) [English]
  • Refugee or Migrant [English] [Français]
  • UNHCR Recommendations for Ministerial Conference of the Euro African Process Paris October 2008 [English]
  • Beyond the nexus Jeff Crisp April 2008 [English]
  • Promoting Integration through Mobility Free Movement under ECOWAS [English]
  • IOM Discussion Note Mixed Migration Flows [English] [Français]
  • Irregular Migration from West Africa through the Maghreb to the European Union [English]
  • IOM Matrix on rights-based initiatives to address mixed migration [English]


  • Multipartite agreement for the local integration of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in Nigeria [English]
  • Applicability of Ceased Circumstances for Sierra Leonan refugees [English] [Français]
  • Towards Local integration of Liberian and Sierra Leonan refugees [English]
  • Comparative Table Standards of Treatments for Selected Rights of Refugees [English] [Français]


International Refugee Law

  • UN Convention relating to the status of refugees (1951) and its Protocol (1967) [English] [Français]
  • OAU Convention (1969) [English, Français]
  • Guidelines on International Protection Victims of Trafficking [English]

International Human Rights Law (external links)

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) [English]
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [English]
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [English]
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984) [English]
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child [English]
  • International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families [English]
  • OHCHR Fact sheet 24 The International Convention on Migrant Workers and its Committee (2005) [English]
  • International Migration and Human Rights Global Migration Group [English]

International Criminal Law

  • 2000 Protocol to prevent Trafficking [English]
  • 2000 Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime [English] [Français]

International Law of Sea

Regional Migration Law and Policy

Download the collection of roundtable documents in zipped format for offline browsing and/or printing:
Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in West Africa
[zipped file, 31.7Mb]

Conference poster [PDF, 2.59Mb]. Download the regional conference poster and banner here [zipped file, 11.7Mb]




UNHCR country pages

Asylum and Migration

Asylum and Migration

All in the same boat: The challenges of mixed migration around the world.

Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration: A 10-Point Plan of Action

A UNHCR strategy setting out key areas in which action is required to address the phenomenon of mixed and irregular movements of people. See also: Schematic representation of a profiling and referral mechanism in the context of addressing mixed migratory movements.

International Migration

The link between movements of refugees and broader migration attracts growing attention.

Mixed Migration

Migrants are different from refugees but the two sometimes travel alongside each other.

Drifting Towards Italy

Every year, Europe's favourite summer playground - the Mediterranean Sea - turns into a graveyard as hundreds of men, women and children drown in a desperate bid to reach European Union (EU) countries.

The Italian island of Lampedusa is just 290 kilometres off the coast of Libya. In 2006, some 18,000 people crossed this perilous stretch of sea - mostly on inflatable dinghies fitted with an outboard engine. Some were seeking employment, others wanted to reunite with family members and still others were fleeing persecution, conflict or indiscriminate violence and had no choice but to leave through irregular routes in their search for safety.

Of those who made it to Lampedusa, some 6,000 claimed asylum. And nearly half of these were recognized as refugees or granted some form of protection by the Italian authorities.

In August 2007, the authorities in Lampedusa opened a new reception centre to ensure that people arriving by boat or rescued at sea are received in a dignified way and are provided with adequate accommodation and medical facilities.

Drifting Towards Italy

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

Crossing the Gulf of Aden

Every year thousands of people in the Horn of Africa - mainly Somalis and Ethiopians - leave their homes out of fear or pure despair, in search of safety or a better life. They make their way over dangerous Somali roads to Bossaso in the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

In this lawless area, smuggler networks have free reign and innocent and desperate civilians pay up to US$150 to make the perilous trip across the Gulf of Aden.

Some stay weeks on end in safe houses or temporary homes in Bossaso before they can depart. A sudden call and a departure in the middle of the night, crammed in small unstable boats. At sea, anything can happen to them - they are at the whim of smugglers. Some people get beaten, stabbed, killed and thrown overboard. Others drown before arriving on the beaches of Yemen, which have become the burial ground for hundreds who many of those who died en route.

Crossing the Gulf of Aden

UNHCR - IDC video on alternatives to detention for childrenPlay video

UNHCR - IDC video on alternatives to detention for children

The story of a young boy and girl forced to flee their homes, and how detention can be avoided in order to complete their migration status.
Italy: Survivors of the Sea Tragedy Play video

Italy: Survivors of the Sea Tragedy

The 28 survivors of what is expected to be the biggest migration sea tragedy in the Mediterranean finally landed ashore in Sicily, Italy. Earlier in the day the recovered bodies of those who lost their lives where taken to Malta earlier in the day. Around 800 people lost their lives in the tragedy, only 24 bodies were recovered.
Syrian Refugees: Desperate in LampedusaPlay video

Syrian Refugees: Desperate in Lampedusa

In the past year, more than 13,000 people have arrived by boat in Italy's Lampedusa Island on irregular migration routes. Many have died attempting the crossing. Young men from sub-Saharan Africa mix with families from Syria. All share the same dream - starting afresh in the security and stability of Europe.