FG, IOM, sign MoU on reintegrating migrant women, children

The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to improve interventions for migrant women and children.

The MoU, which was signed in Abuja, on Thursday, would also focus on interventions around gender-based violence, child rights as well as violence against persons.

Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, who spoke shortly before the signing of the MoU, said the MoU would foster the relationship between the ministry and IOM on interventions in areas of mutual interest.

“Today, history is being made as we witness another glorious moment in consolidating our activities at addressing our areas of mutual interest.

“This event further strengthens the existing relationship between our organisations, which I understand dates back to August 2002 when the first MoU was signed.

“I am convinced that the implementation of the provisions of the work plan and MoU will not only be inclusive but will also impact positively on the wellbeing of the target group. We will focus on the interventions around gender-based violence, Child Rights Act of 2002 and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015, migrant child protection, disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration.

“The MoU is coming at the appropriate time as we work towards the development of the Third National Action Plan as prepared for the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution on Women, Peace and Security.

“This will, therefore, go a long way to refocus projects and programmes that will help the country and impact positively to alleviate the situation of our target beneficiaries,” she said.

She said the ministry had been at the forefront of addressing migrants’ issue and such coordinated intervention was very important and timely.

Frantz Celestin, Chief of Mission, IOM, said that the first point of call after the MoU signing was the assessment of the shelter facilities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said the focus on women stemmed from IOM data which showed that 42 per cent of the over 20,000 Nigerian migrants returned by IOM, were women.

Mr Celestin said women and children were the most exploited and suffered the most brunt of violence and marginalisation.

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“I am truly honored to be part of this historic moment. I know, together, bringing our respective strength to bear, we can do a lot. In recent years, we have seen what we referred to as the feminization of migration. Where more and more women are on the move.

“They often find themselves in vulnerable situations, be it trafficking or exploitation. Looking specifically at Nigeria, our data showed that 42% of the 20,000 Nigerian migrants IOM brought back from Libya in the last three years are women.

“Our data also show that they often suffer the most severe cases of exploitation and abuse. They need more support when they come back to fully reintegrate in society,” he said.

The IOM chief said that the organisation’s programme seeks to give voice to women and children by removing the ‘victimhood’ veil from them.

“We know they can be the masters of their own destiny. This is why this MOU is so important,” he added. “This MOU will link IOM’s work with the Ministry’s Strategic Plan and Operational Framework, especially Strategic Result Areas.

“IOM is looking forward to having specific focal points from the Ministry to participate in our proposed quarterly coordination meetings,” he said.


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