As the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration, IOM is increasingly called upon by States to assist in addressing complex border management challenges. To this end, IOM provides guidelines and technical advice to governments aspiring to improve their migration and border management and operational procedures. IOM assists the governments in developing policies, legislations, administrative structures and operational systems but also in meeting the human resource base necessary to respond effectively to diverse migration challenges and to institute appropriate migration governance.

In West and Central Africa, intra-regional migration represents a large part of cross-border movements and has been widely recognized as key to the region’s economic growth and stability. Challenges relating to regional security have however recently prompted states in the region to rethink their approach to immigration and border management to promote more effective and efficient migration governance, including border processes.

Migration and Border Management Assessments  

The IOM Migration and Border Management Assessment Framework provides a complete overview of the migration management structure of the surveyed country and thus allows us to properly identify genuine development needs and requirements. The assessments cover political, administrative, regulatory and operational frameworks, and information management systems. This approach has proved to be very effective in providing a baseline of current capacity, ensuring that activities are not duplicated, but also in attracting potential donors and providing assurance that their funds are being properly targeted towards genuine needs and will achieve maximum impact. These assessments have been carried out in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

Migration Information and Data Analysis System

IOM has developed its own border management information system. The Migrant Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) is a software that enables States to collect, process and record migrants’ information for the purpose of identification, authentication, data collection, and analysis. It can collect biographic and biometric data, at border points and in non-border settings. It helps to better monitor migrant patterns and to shape and influence migration and border management policies.

Compliant with international standards, MIDAS offers high-quality performance at an affordable price and is suitable for installation in remote areas. To date, MIDAS is operational in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Guinea, Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. It will be settled soon in Benin, the Central African Republic, Chad and the Gambia.

Renovation / Border-posts construction

IOM supports the States with the provision of adequate infrastructures, tools, and logistical means in order to reinforce their border management operational capacities: border police posts, mobile border control units, barracks, immigration HQ. IOM has provided support in Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal to build or renovate border-posts.

Capacity-building in Countering Document Fraud

IOM assists States in assessing and improving the integrity of their identity documents, especially travel documents, and related issuance and management systems, with a focus on effective, robust and internationally compliant processes. Border management officials in many countries of the region have also benefitted from the IOM’s specific training curriculum on travel document inspection and use of associated equipment, supported by IOM’s flagship training tool in this field: the Passport Examination Procedures Manual, available in nine languages. This reinforcement takes place in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.

Migration and Border Management Trainings  

IOM carries out training that aims at increasing awareness of migration issues and focuses on several thematic areas, such as international law, labour migration, migration and health, gender training and integrated border management. IOM also delivers “thematic training” that focuses on specific IBM topics and is designed to support immigration practitioners in carrying out their tasks and duties in a professional, efficient and ethical way.

Comprehensive modules have been developed to provide in-depth training in communication at border check-points, border procedures, passport examination procedures, countering document fraud and international organized crime (trafficking in persons and people smuggling), interviewing techniques and intelligence analysis for immigration and border officers. To date, IOM has provided training workshops in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.

Cross-border community engagement

IOM encourages the participation of cross-border communities in border management to work for their own protection through better collaboration and cooperation with the authorities. Indeed, as communities are the first to directly encounter the signs of a crisis, communication with local authorities is crucial to ensure a quick and effective response to a crisis and to prevent future crises. Thus, effective coordination between all parties is essential for security, stability, and peace.

This citizen engagement involves dialogue and transmission of information to the authorities about suspicious incidents or activities at the border and aims to prevent mass and disorderly displacement by strengthening cross-border cooperation. Also, the importance of awareness campaigns, the creation of information, education and communication materials, the establishment of dialogues with the authorities through periodic forums and meetings, the implementation of crisis simulation exercises, the creation of community prevention committees in coordination with the authorities and the creation of toll-free numbers to reach the security and health authorities lead to an improvement on the trust between State and its citizens and enhance the effectiveness of the action of the authorities. To date, IOM has provided support in Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.

Visa Application Centers

Within this scope of work, IOM operates Visa Application Centres (VACs) on behalf of diplomatic missions. IOM operated VACs handle all of the time-consuming administrative tasks of the visa application process to include biometrics enrolments and work to ensure that only properly completed visa applications are submitted, along with all required supporting documentation. Such outsourcing partnerships result in reduced costs and workloads for visa and immigration offices, faster visa processing times and improved service standards for visa applicants while protecting them from often unscrupulous visa brokers.  Perhaps most importantly, such partnerships enable visa and immigration officers to make informed decisions based on complete information and assist officers to focus on their core function, adjudicating visas. In West and Central Africa, IOM operates VACs and provides document verification services on behalf of Australia, Canada, England, and Spain.