Citizens in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been sensitized on ECOWAS National Biometric Card.
The two day programme which was organized by Ghana’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Ministry among others seeks to raise awareness among citizens in the sub region on various regional instruments on free movement on migration.
Speaking at the opening of the event, Foreign Affairs Minister and Regional Integration Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said despite existing protocols on travels in the region, the ECOWAS region continued to face challenges which delay the actualization of free movement as envisaged by its founders.
According to her these challenges include lack of knowledge of the rights and responsibilities enshrined in the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol and related texts, irregular migration, transnational crime, such as human trafficking, vulnerability of ECOWAS Community Citizens, migrants and travelers within the ECOWAS region.
also explained that “lack of valid travel documents and identification cards
for community citizens, migrants and travelers, high level of harassment and
extortion of money at the border posts and vulnerability of cross-border
traders and marketers are among the challenges.”
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey further underscored the need for member countries to help change the narrative associated with movement of ECOWAS citizens in the sub region.
“After over six decades of independence of ECOWAS member states, this should not be our story. We ought to chart a path towards real regional integration which should lead to the development, prosperity and wellbeing of our people, she emphasized.”
Meanwhile the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has stressed the need to protect migrants traveling across the ECOWAS sub region.
Chief of Mission, IOM Ghana, Sylvia Lopez- Ekra, made the statement in Accra at a separate two-day advocacy, sensitization and support programme on the implementation of the ECOWAS national biometric card.
Story By: Henry George Martinson/radiogoldlive.com