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West Africa conference on refugee protection and international migration

Briefing notes

West Africa conference on refugee protection and international migration

11 November 2008

A two-day conference on "Refugee Protection and International Migration in West Africa" begins Thursday (Nov. 13) in Dakar, Senegal, sponsored by UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The conference is the second in a series of four regional meetings. The first was held in May in Sana'a, Yemen. This week's conference will bring together high-level government officials from 15 member states of ECOWAS as well as representatives of civil society and international organizations. Representatives of the European Commission (EC) and the US State Department will also attend.

The conference will examine migratory movements within West Africa and explore opportunities offered by the 1979 ECOWAS Protocol relating to freedom of movement and residency to help identify solutions.

Migratory movements to other regions of the African continent and beyond will also be examined, with a particular focus on ways to reduce illegal migration while promoting legal and safe options. The resulting recommendations will in part be based on a 10-Point-Plan of Action developed by UNHCR in 2006 to assist governments in developing protection-sensitive migration strategies.