In this edition of MIEUX Reflections, Pauline Dunoyer de Segonzac, MIEUX’s Coordinator for West Africa, shares her insights about her mission in September, when she accompanied a delegation of Nigerian Maritime Border Management officials on a five-day study visit to Malta. The study visit is part of a six-step ongoing Action designed to assist the Nigerian Immigration Service in this area.
Q1. Malta and Nigeria are an unlikely pair. Why did you think that Malta was the best destination for the study visit of the Nigerian delegation?
"The situation of Malta and Nigeria can be seen as very different in terms of population and migration flows. However, Malta has an important number of good practices in assistance and services provided to migrants and specifically, in the field of maritime border management as it can only be accessed by sea. There are also a number of international and non-governmental organisations based in Malta and therefore the Nigerian delegation was able to meet with lots of different actors and learn from different perspectives.
Besides, Malta is well known for the 2015 EU-Africa Summit on Migration and for being a very active EUMS in the field of migration management. When thinking about irregular migration, Nigerians have been among the top five nationalities arriving through the Central Mediterranean route. Therefore, what could have been more logical than asking Malta to host this study visit?
In fact, MIEUX has been supporting Nigeria since 2016 on maritime border management and irregular migration by developing a training curriculum for the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). Before this, maritime border management was an area which had received very little attention; but faced with ever-growing needs, the Nigerian government decided to address this topic as a priority.
The six-step ongoing Action was designed to include experts from Italy, Lithuania and Portugal. They were deployed on several missions to work side-by-side with their Nigerian counterparts in drafting the training curriculum through a number of activities.
The study visit is one of the steps in this Action. It is designed to provide more practical knowledge to the members of the technical working group in charge of drafting the curriculum. This is essentially what we do: ensure the transfer of knowledge between EU and Southern administrations at the practitioner level.
Similarly, the study visit also gave the opportunity for all involved actors to improve their bilateral cooperation. It was not just about learning from one another; but also about strengthening partnerships between the two continents and finding some common ground that would lead to enhancements in migration management for Nigeria."
Q2. What was the highlight of the trip for you?
"This study visit was a mix of theoretical and practical exchange of knowledge between national, non-governmental and international actors. All of them have a role to play and contribute to improving migration management.
It’s actually quite difficult to only pick one highlight! We really worked on the agenda to ensure that all meetings were of great interest. Nevertheless, for me, it would be the visits to the Maritime Squadron and the Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta because they allowed me to get concrete insights into their involvement in Search and Rescue operations; the range of services they provided to migrants; and the coordination with other actors in the Mediterranean.
Even if we are all aware that these Search and Rescue operations are taking place, it is something different to speak to the individuals who are actually leading them and who are sometimes risking their own lives to save those of hundreds of migrants on a daily basis."
Q3. Can you think of three words to summarise this study visit?
The first one would be "exchange" because this mission represented knowledge transfer at its best! Interchanging skills and technical know-how between peers proves to be extremely effective when dealing with everyday challenges.
The second one I can think of is "learning" because I, along with the entire delegation, learnt a great deal from the experiences, capabilities, and skills of the Maltese.
The third one would be "improvement", because I increased my knowledge of the overall subject, helping me to gather crucial insights that will I revert to future Actions for MIEUX.
MIEUX Reflections is an ongoing series that provides a space where our Project Staff can share their insights on their recent missions. On any given week, a member of the MIEUX team, together with a group of experts, can be deployed around the world to support EU partner countries in reviewing, transforming and reinforcing their migration policies. These missions provide opportunities to interact with the full range of local, regional and/or national actors that are involved in MIEUX’s activities.
Once on the ground, the many months of preparation come alive, inspiring the Project Staff to go forward and apply Lessons Learnt into new activities.