The European Union has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nigeria to combat illegal migration from Nigeria to Europe, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and West Africa, Michel Arrion, said.
Mr. Arrion said in Abuja on Tuesday that the agreement, titled, Common Agenda for Migration and Mobility, was signed two months ago in Brussels.
He said the agreement translated the four main objectives of the EU migration policy.
“In each of the documents coming from EU on migration, basically, there are four things we want to do,” Mr. Arrion said. “The first one is just to facilitate legal migration and legal mobility also in the field of tourism and in the field of business.”
According to him, the second objective of the MoU is to fight illegal migration.
“Unfortunately, the victims of those illegal networks are sometimes considered as criminals,” he said. “So we must focus on those who are organising those networks of illegal migration, human trafficking in general and other organised crimes.”
Mr. Arrion said the MoU sought to protect the rights of the victims who suffered from illegal crime activities as its third objective.
“The third thing that we are insisting on is to be fully compliant with international law in terms of protection of migrants,” he said.
“This includes the protection of asylum seekers, protection of refugees and protection of IDPs; generally speaking, compliance with international law and compliance with international human rights law.”
The EU official said the agreement had as the fourth objective the use of migration as a tool for development.
He said the contributions of migrants in the form of remittances to their countries of origin could contribute to such countries’ development.
“We have shared the four strategies with Nigeria,” he said. “Nigeria is happy with the strategy and we will really work on that. Not only do we work with Nigeria, we believe that by definition, migration is an issue to be addressed at the regional level.”
The ambassador said the union aimed to develop a better policy dialogue with ECOWAS, its institution and member-states.
He explained that EU was discussing migration issues at the continental level, saying migration was quite high on the agenda of EU discussion with African Union.
“We believe that AU has a lot of roles to play in assuring free movement of Africans in Africa,” he said. “You know as Nigerian or as African citizens, how difficult it is to move within Africa, within West Africa. We believe the EU can offer some examples of what we have been doing in the last 50 years in facilitating the free movement of people within our union. And we believe the same should happen within Africa or more generally within Europe.”