The African region is affected by substantial mixed migration flows, either originating in or transiting through its constituent countries. The principal characteristics of mixed migration flows include their irregular nature and the multiplicity of factors driving such movements, as well as the differentiated needs and profiles of the persons involved.
Mixed migration flows, which could potentially include refugees, asylum-seekers, displaced persons and migrants pursuing family reunification, education or employment, can, if not well managed, put a strain on governments in the region as they struggle to cope with the large number of people crossing their borders and moving through their countries.
These regional dynamics are compounded by a general weakness of border and migration management regimes across the region, which in some places is characterized by porous borders, inadequately trained and poorly equipped staff, and insufficient regional technical cooperation.
Towards a Solution
Established in 2009 at the request of African Member States, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) African Capacity Building Centre (ACBC) is mandated to enhance African governments’ migration management capacities, promote comprehensive migration governance and facilitate a diverse range of immigration and border management projects and training courses.
The Centre is partnered and hosted by the Tanzania Regional Immigration Training Academy (TRITA) as part of a unique partnership between IOM and the Government of Tanzania. TRITA is tasked by the East African Community (EAC) Heads of Immigration Services with coordinating and providing specific training courses for immigration officials from the six EAC countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The ACBC’s core activities are based around three pillars:
- Capacity building in border and migration management, which incorporates the development and implementation of migration policies, strategies, border and migration management assessments, training and related tools, and the IOM border management information system (MIDAS).
- Migration research and development, which combines research on migration issues and trends with the development of context-specific responses and interventions.
- Migration advocacy and partnerships, which promotes collaboration on migration initiatives through advocacy and cross-border partnership building.
Over the past eight years, ACBC has responded to an increasingly wide range of requests from African States to help build national capacities and shape innovative solutions in migration management. This has included activities related to migration and border management (integrated border management, border information systems, identity management, document examination, security and counter-terrorism, interview and investigation techniques related to migration related crimes and transnational organization crime), counter- trafficking and smuggling of migrants, mixed migration flows, migration policy, rescue at sea, humanitarian border management, labour mobility and migrant health.
Since its establishment, the ACBC has trained around 5,614 migration management officials from 52 different African states. Yet, the expertise acquired over the years is now giving the Centre opportunities to broaden training commitments outside the continent, helping to ensure that the lessons learned in the African context can be adjusted, and replicated where feasible, in other countries and contexts. As a result, training has also been delivered to officials in Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia and Turkey. At the same time, a priority for 2018 has been to increase coordination with various Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) and the ACBC’s traditional partner, the African Union (AU), specifically focusing on continent-wide migration management initiatives within the training and capacity divisions of member states.
The ACBC’s regional capacity-building activities have a strong focus on sharing practical strategies for migration governance issues as well as combating criminal activities such as trafficking of persons and people smuggling, while emphasizing best practices in cross border, regional and international law enforcement. In June 2018 for example, the IOM ACBC facilitated a 4-day capacity- building training on counter-trafficking and smuggling in Cairo, Egypt, for officials from the Horn of Africa region. Around thirty law enforcement professionals composed of immigration, border management, police and legal departments from Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Tunisia took part in the activity.
Ensuring national and collective ownership of the ACBC’s programmes is crucial to promoting the long- term sustainability of its capacity building, research and development and partnership outcomes.This ownership is supported by ensuring that all activities carried out by the ACBC arise from, and are aligned with, governments’ stated objectives and needs. It is the ACBC’s policy, for
example, to ensure that all activities are oriented towards the implementation of relevant multilateral and regional frameworks, notably including the AUs Agenda 2063 and the priorities identified by Member States’ relating to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Additionally, the ACBC works closely with regional stakeholders to identify government champions that can take forward the lessons from the ACBC’s activities to ensure their ongoing implementation and sustainability. For example, the six Member States of the EAC, together with Rwanda, now lead in providing training and capacity building platforms for other governments, based on the support they themselves have received from the ACBC. The South African government also plays a major partnership role in a number of activities, lending its technical expertise and several lead trainers to contribute to the ACBC’s programmes. These partnership-based activities are complemented by regular Training of Trainers (ToT) sessions with government counterparts, which help to further promote sustainable and self- reinforcing outcomes.
In order to continue to respond to the evolving needs of Member States in managing migration, IOM ACBC will maintain its focus on strengthening national capacities within the border management arena, including by providing training and technical support. However, a special focus on migrant health and labour migration issues will also be integrated into its work. Moving forward, it is intended that the ACBC will continue to promote South-South and triangular cooperation between Member States, Regional Economic Communities in Africa (i.e. the African Union and the East African Community), international organizations such as INTERPOL and Frontex, academia and IOM itself, in an effort to standardize and share international best practices in immigration and border management.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 8.7, 8.8, 10.7, 16.2, 16.3, 16.4, 16.6, 16.8, 17.9, 17.16, 17.17
Countries/territories involved: 52 African countries, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Tunisia, Turkey