MIEUX and Cabo Verde – 10 years of fruitful cooperation

Moments during the mission to Cabo Verde


It seems like yesterday but almost 10 years ago, in August 2009, the MIEUX Initiative received one of its very first requests from a partner country. The Cabinet of the Prime Minister requested MIEUX’s support to develop what would later become Cabo Verde’s first National Immigration Strategy (NIS). This was high on the agenda given its change in status from a country of origin to a country of destination for migration flows thanks to having become one the best performing economies of West Africa.  

The first mission was conducted 9 years ago, in February 2010, leading to the adoption of the NIS in January 2012, after intensive months of joint workshops and drafting session between MIEUX Team and Cabo Verde’s authorities. The second and third MIEUX Action helped to translate this strategy into a sound institutional legislative framework at a national level that included the Law on Foreigners’ Residence, Law on Asylum and Protection, and Law on Human Trafficking and Migrant exploitation.

Municipal Action Plans for Immigration and Integration 

Today, we are back where it all started, in Praia, for the closing of the 4th MIEUX Action in Cabo Verde where Romain Gustot, Project Officer in charge of this Action, presented alongside local authorities the Municipal Action Plans for Immigration and Integration (MAPII), developed with the Direction General for Immigration (DGI). The MAPIIs translate the priorities of the National Strategy to the local level while strengthening the capacities of Cabo Verde’s local authorities to better manage immigration and social integration of immigrants. As Victor Gomes Fortes, Director of the Office for Education, Professional Training and Communities (emigration and immigration) at the Boa Vista Municipality stated, “Since we have so many of our own abroad, we want migrants to be treated fairly everywhere, including those coming to Cabo Verde for a better life. Immigration is another side of the same coin for us” (Victor is featured in the photo holding the MAPII).

During the formulation phase of the plans, MIEUX and the DGI gathered staff from town halls and local Gabinetes de Apoio ao Imigrante (GAI – immigrant support offices) who work daily with newcomers and long-term immigrants in their islands and municipalities. Migrant associations, such as the Platform of the African Community, were also an integral part of the process in order highlight the everyday realities and struggles of migrants and align them with the priorities and obligations of local and national authorities.

The drafting group has also developed a standard model of PAMII that will then be tailored for each municipality, depending on their specific demographics and needs. As pioneers, Boa Vista and Praia, the two main destinations for immigrants in Cabo Verde, are presenting their PAMII to a wide range of stakeholders, among which the local EU Delegation, Embassies and other Ministries this week and at the closing event on Thursday 28 February 2019. Other Municipalities will follow soon in their example with support from local consultants and the DGI.

Inspired by European practices

True to its result-oriented principle, MIEUX team has also developed a related Procedure Manual, based on good practices from Europe, to facilitate the implementation of the PAMII and NIS by practitioners working daily with immigrants. Our two MIEUX experts from Portugal, Olinda Chaves, Senior Inspector at Foreigners and Borders Service and Assunçao Fernandes, Superior Social Service Technician in Oeiras Municipality were able to gather relevant examples from Portugal, recognised as one of the most advanced countries for integration and inclusion (as testified by its MIPEX ranking).

The new plans will benefit immigrants to Cabo Verde as well as the staff working at the GAI, whose aim is to provide in-person assistance and information regarding entry, residence requirements and integration policies. The first GAI opened in Santa Maria Police Station on the Island of Sal (2013), where a large number of immigrants from mainland West Africa and Europe reside. The DGI now wants to open immigrant support offices in the 22 Cabo Verdean Municipalities across the 9 islands to complement the work of the network of municipal focal points on emigration (RENEM) by setting up a similar network for immigration. Cabo Verde’s efforts to improve integration policies through renewed procedures and services is part of a wider vision to embrace the opportunities that migration and migrants can bring for national development. As expressed during a recent interview with Carmem Barros Furtado, Director of the General Directorate of Immigration within the Ministry of Family and Social Inclusion and MIEUX focal point, “migration is a big opportunity for the local development of towns and cities ”.

MIEUX and West Africa

MIEUX’s presence across West Africa has been constant since 2009: in 10 years, we have implemented 27 Actions in this region, in 14 out of 16 West African States and with ECOWAS, representing nearly 30% of MIEUX’s portfolio of activities. In line with the interventions in Cabo Verde, the majority of MIEUX’s Actions in West Africa have focused on formulating migration policies, legislation, strategies and action plans in different fields of migration, proving that enhanced migration governance is at the top of the political agenda of West African countries. Some examples include the Migration and Development Strategy in Togo, the Municipal Action Plan for Migrant Integration at the Local Level in Cabo Verde, and the National Migration Policy in Sierra Leone. As reported during the 2018 Regional Knowledge Sharing Round-table in Cotonou, MIEUX interventions have been quite successful in setting up sustainable Inter-Ministerial Committees to deal with migration in all its dimensions and these West African States have greatly benefitted from learning about the examples and practices of EU institutions and regional counterparts.

Related links

MIEUX Factsheet on West Africa

Interview with Carmen Barros Furtado and Assunçao Fernandes

Regional Knowledge Sharing Roundtables: West Africa