IOM, Internal Affairs Ministry collaborate to fight illegal migration

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 By Alhaji Haruna Sani

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) have initiated a pioneering cooperation agreement to address migration issues both domestically and internationally.

The agreement was formalized on Friday, 14th June, at the ministry’s conference room on 14 Gloucester Street, Freetown, alongside a donation of office equipment from the IOM to support the ministry’s migration management efforts.

The donated office equipment, including computers, executive chairs, desks, and the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), will enhance the ministry’s capacity to monitor migration. The MIDAS system is particularly valuable for tracking entries at the Lungi Airport and border crossings such as Gblamunya at the Guinea border.

Christos Christodoulides, the IOM Head of Office in Sierra Leone, highlighted the significance of the agreement, emphasizing the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ crucial role in migration management.

He outlined that the agreement encompasses collaboration on border management, voluntary return assistance for Sierra Leonean migrants, and broader migration policies.

Christodoulides praised the agreement as a significant milestone for the IOM and commended Sierra Leone’s commitment to global migration initiatives, noting its status as a migration champion country and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Major General (Rtd) David T.O. Taluva, Minister of Internal Affairs, underscored the importance of the cooperation, especially following the government’s adoption of the national migration policy in 2022, with the IOM as the primary implementation partner.

He stressed that the IOM is the principal agency relied upon by the government to repatriate stranded Sierra Leonean migrants abroad. “Without such agreements”, he noted, “stranded migrants would face dire consequences, which is against the government’s interests”.

Minister Taluva also called on the IOM to assist with internal migration issue, pointing out that the rural-to-urban migration trend is causing environmental problems in Freetown, such as flooding due to unregulated housing developments and deforestation.

He expressed a desire for the IOM to support rural development, making these areas more attractive for residents and reducing urban migration pressures.

He highlighted the successful repatriation and reintegration of over 3,000 stranded Sierra Leonean migrants with IOM’s help.

Overall, this cooperation agreement marks a significant step forward in managing migration effectively, ensuring the welfare of migrants, and addressing both international and internal migration challenges.

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