In an effort to address this ugly situation which requires the involvement of government institutions and communities which are the primary host of children affected by mobility, Terre des hommes Foundation launched a project for the protection of migrant children along Abidjan-Lagos corridor in the West African in April 2017.
This project is also known as CORAL PROJECT is simultaneously implemented Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic and Nigeria. It is being financed by the European Union and implemented by Terre des hommes Foundation in partnership with ENDA Youth Action and the African Movement of Working Children and Youth (AMWCY).
As part of the project implementation plan Terre des hommes Foundation brought together border guards and community actors from Nigeria and Benin Republic for a three-day workshop on mobility approach, protective accompaniment of children and case management at Sycomore Hotel, Badagry from Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd February 2018.
Declaring the workshop open, the Executive Chairman of Badagry Local Government Hon. Onilude Olusegun Adeniran charged participants to make the best out of the workshop “This is an International training and the exchange of information, ideas and experience which will occur during the few days will help us to learn from the successes and mistakes of the past. Let us be quite clear that the effort to reduce risks and dangers associated migration cannot be limited to one country alone. It really is an international issue and as such requires a concerted effort of all stakeholders from all countries of the world’’
The objectives of this gathering was to improve the knowledge of participants on child protection, the concepts of mobility and on the protective accompaniment of children which is a child protection approach designed by Terre des hommes Foundation. It was also to strengthen their knowledge on case management of children affected by Mobility, institutional and community based child protection mechanisms, train participants on case management tools as well as the registration of children affected by mobility. It must be noted that not only children who move can be affected by mobility or migration but also but also those who are left behind after the movement of their parents, guardians or care givers.
The reality over the years has shown that people can’t be stopped from moving. People move for various reasons but most of these movements come with a lot risks and dangers especially for children who are directly or directly affected and are sometimes are unaccompanied. The need to reduce their vulnerability and increase their access to development opportunity cannot be overemphasized. Our timely commitment and support for the protection of children on the move or those who are affected by migration will go a long way in preventing future emergencies. This can be achieved by through strong child protection policies that have provision for children affected by migration and yearly budgetary allocation by all tiers of governments to address or support cases of children affected by mobility or migration
However, leaving the responsibility of the protection of migrant children to only the institutional actors without the involvement of the community actors will not yield the desired result. They are primary host of these children, working directly with actors such as traditional rulers, chiefs, market leaders, religious leaders and influential people by putting in place community based child protection mechanisms will implore their protection, reduce their risk and increase their access to education, capacity building or skill acquisition.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Port Health Services of Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP), Nigeria Police Force, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organization, Community Actors as well as all counterparts of the above mentioned organizations from Benin Republic. Also present at the workshop were the Head of Country office of Terre des hommes in Nigeria Mrs Olapeju Osoba and her counterpart from Benin Republic Mr. Arsene Metinhoue as well as representatives from African Movement of Working Children and youth.
It is clear beyond doubt that for a better protection of migrant children we need to work together. Creating a synergy and a strong network among all actors such immigration, port health, NGOs, community actors across borders will surely improve the condition of migrant children and that of children on mobility.