News from Africa

Switzerland-Nigeria: a migration partnership that has evolved in three years

Témoignages.re / 2 April 2014

Over three years after Switzerland and Nigeria signed their migration partnership agreement, the delegations of these two countries met today in Abuja for the 5th technical committee meeting. One of the main points of discussion was Switzerland’s recently launched regional migration and development programme in West Africa, for which Nigeria is one of the main beneficiaries. The meeting also enabled follow-up of the June 2013 joint action plan to counter irregular migration, improve police cooperation and assess progress made in various projects.

BERN, Switzerland, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)

Launched in August 2013 by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the regional migration and development programme in West Africa follows the same partnership logic whereby migration is viewed in its entirety and the interests of all stakeholders (Switzerland, the partner country and migrants) are taken into account. With a total budget of CHF 7.5 million for the period running from October 2013 to the end of 2016, the programme seeks in particular to reinforce regional dialogue on migration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and to support implementation of coherent migration policies in Nigeria, Benin and Burkina Faso. The programme also supports the West Africa Network for the Protection of Children, which is coordinated by the Swiss Foundation of the International Social Service.

This 5th meeting of the technical committee for the Swiss-Nigerian migration partnership also enabled partners to take stock of progress made towards implementation of the joint action plan on asylum and return, which was adopted by Switzerland and Nigeria in June 2013. Among other things, this action plan is intended to help find ways to reduce irregular migration towards Switzerland. Last year, the number of asylum applications filed by Nigerian nationals fell considerably. Since 2013, a fast-track procedure has been used to accelerate processing of asylum applications from Nigerian nationals. The two delegations agreed to intensify cooperation in the area of identification of presumed Nigerian nationals as well as in the area of return.

Programme for the exchange of personnel

As far as police cooperation is concerned, two Swiss cantonal police officers were sent to Lagos for two weeks of work with the Nigerian anti-drug agency. Other projects for the exchange of personnel are planned in 2014. These projects will help to intensify police cooperation.

A new project has also been launched to encourage members of the Nigerian Diaspora in Europe to become involved in development programmes in Nigeria. Two volunteers from the Nigerian Diaspora are currently in Lagos to help provide vocational education and training to young Nigerians.

Multilateral cooperation

In addition, Switzerland and Nigeria work together on migration issues within multilateral institutions. At the second High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development held in New York in October 2013, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga and Nigerian Minister of Interior Patrick Abba Moro co-chaired an official roundtable discussion on coherence and partnerships in the area of international migration. This gave them the opportunity to present a concrete example of implementation to illustrate the migration partnership concept to representatives of the international community, numerous international organisations and civil society organisations.

The Swiss delegation in Abuja was jointly led by FOM Director, Mario Gattiker, and the head of the FDFA’s Human Security Division, Ambassador Claude Wild. The Nigerian delegation was led by Ambassador Abdulaziz Dankano, Under Secretary Economic and Consular, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next meeting of the technical committee will take place in Bern.

Nigeria was the third main country of origin for asylum seekers in 2013

A total of 1,764 aslyum applications were filed in 2013, making Nigeria the third main country of origin for asylum seekers in Switzerland. The number of aslyum applications from Nigerian nationals fell by 35.8% in 2013 compared to the previous year. Also in 2013, the Swiss authorities accompanied 544 Nigerian nationals to the departure gate for return flights to their country of origin. This was 103 more than the 441 supervised departures reported for 2012.

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