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CSOs call for greater protection of migrants’ and children’s rights

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By Fatou Bojang

A forum of Gambian civil society organisations and rights advocates has recommended greater protection of migrants and children with specific consideration of gender perspectives.

On Sunday, The Gambia NGOs Forum, the PROMIS project, and the PAPEV project put together a high-level advocacy panel to raise awareness among NGOs actors about protecting migrants and children’s rights from a gender perspective.

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Held at the International Conference Centre, the forum focused on the participation of NGOs in the 79th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The panel, chaired and animated by Nimo Ali, highlighted the partnerships between NGOs and the United Nations in the protection of migrants.

The panellists denounced several factors, including the limited safe and regular pathways for migration, which have compelled more people to migrate irregularly and to use smugglers and facilitators when moving through West Africa. They argued that rigorous securitization of migration, including the tightening of border controls in West Africa, has exposed migrants to greater risks of human rights violations, especially regarding women and children.

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“Migrants may experience a wide range of human rights violations in their countries of origin, transit, or destination. These violations include a denial of civil and political rights such as arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, torture, or a lack of due process, as well as economic, social, and cultural rights like poverty, challenges to accessing the rights to health and education, an adequate standard of living, and social security,” the panel stated.

The panellists also denounced the lack of access to quality education, arguing that while education remains fundamental for human development and societal progress, numerous challenges persist in Africa’s education systems.

“Low proficiency continues to persist in Africa despite human rights instruments such as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Maputo Protocol, and the African Youth Charter giving provisions for access to education by children and youths on the continent.”

“Closing the gender gap requires targeted interventions to promote girls’ education, improve maternal and reproductive healthcare, address gender-based violence, and enhance women’s economic empowerment through access to finance, land rights, and entrepreneurship opportunities. Empowering women not only benefits them individually but also contributes to overall economic growth and social development.”

The panellists concluded that advocating for means of addressing human rights issues in the context of migration requires a multi-stakeholder approach, especially for the gender and child rights dimensions.

“Beyond the fundamental role of states, civil society remains a critical stakeholder in ensuring the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants. Across the West African Region, civil society actors have been undertaking various interventions towards enhancing gender and human rights in the context of migration.”

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