In a step towards regularizing labour migration, Libya and Niger today signed a memorandum of understanding that seeks to protect migrant workers through effective work visa issuance before employment and to better respond to Libya’s labour market needs.
“Bilateral collaboration plays a key role in promoting the labour rights of Nigerien migrants in Libya, to improve their working conditions and thereby to facilitate the remittances to their communities of origin, by an economy and contribute to the development of their home country through remittances,” said Barbara Rijks, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Niger. “It will also contribute to combat migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons and promote safe and regular migration pathways.”
Federico Soda, Chief of Mission for IOM Libya, said it is essential to strengthen coordination and cooperation mechanisms on migration management and labour mobility across the countries’ borders. “There are more than 600,000 international migrants in Libya, with Nigerien nationals the most prominent group at 20 per cent,” he said. ”They play a pivotal role in supplying a critical workforce in the Libyan economy and contribute to the development of their home country through remittances.”
According to an IOM report on the nature of migration dynamics between Libya, Chad and Niger, crossing the Sahara Desert is one of the world’s most perilous migration journeys. The migration routes are remote and vehicle breakdown and the threats from bandits are frequent. Migrants often travel spontaneously, following in the footsteps of centuries of migration before them, often with no documents or legal status.
In response to these risks, IOM has closely worked with Libyan and Nigerien governments to strengthen their capacities in various areas, including labour migration, migration data and migrant protection. The Organization has also acted as a facilitator to enhance policy and active dialogue and international cooperation mechanisms on labour mobility to foster partnership and support legal frameworks that will protect migrant worker rights.
IOM has also supported the organization of a roundtable meeting today between Libya’s Labour Minister and Ministry of Labour officials from Chad, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. Building on the experience from Niger, the aim is to foster dialogue and pave the way towards establishing a framework of international cooperation in the area of labour mobility between Libya and key countries of origin.
These events are financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Protection Programme (RDPP) and supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Libya.