The United Nations migration agency, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has explained why it supervised a $3.00 million new Police headquarters in the Republic of Niger.
Niger, a landlocked country in the Sahel region is positioned at the crossroad of West, Central and North Africa.
This strategic location has made the country an important corridor for both trade and migration.
Due to its large territory, neighbouring seven countries with over 5,600 km of land borders – and being part of the free movement zone of the West African ECOWAS region – border management challenges are significant.
The country is exposed to various security threats, such as violent extremist terrorism, cross-border crime, trafficking and smuggling, some spilling over from neighbouring countries.
With that in mind, the new National Police headquarters for the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST) was inaugurated on Tuesday, built under the supervision of IOM in Niger.
Tuesday’s ceremony marked the end of the three-year project “Haske DST” (Haske meaning “light” in Hausa), funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US Government, with almost $3.00 million.
The DST – Niger’s immigration service responsible for border management – plays a key role in preventing transnational crime while supporting smooth regular migration and trade across borders.
Moreover, the institution stands as an active participant in the return and reintegration of third-country nationals passing through Niger by providing temporary travel documents and issuing visas and passports.
“The need for a new headquarters has been imposed by the reality of our daily lives”, declared DST Director, Commissaire Abdourahmane Alfa. “We are thrilled to have this new building, with adequate technical equipment more suited to our needs across the country.”
The new headquarters features state-of-the-art facilities for passport and visa services and a dedicated training room for Border Management Information Systems (BMIS), including the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) and the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES).
In line with its strategy, IOM’s immigration and border management programme aims to strengthen the government’s institutional and operational capacities to ensure a sound border management so as to promote safe and regular migration.
In view of this, IOM has supported the cooperation between the DST and immigration services from other countries in the Sahel region by facilitating exchanges among staff through regional workshops on border management challenges of common concern.
“The region, and particularly Niger, is exposed to an array of challenges hampering regular and safe migration”, said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger.
“We hope that this new headquarters building will enable the Government of Niger to strengthen border management and border security throughout the country and across the Sahel.”
The launch was attended by several governmental representatives, including the Minister of Interior, the General Director of the National Police, the DST Director, the Defence and Security Department of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Governor of Niamey, among others.
Also in attendance were the US Ambassador to Niger and the US Special Envoy for the Sahel, and representatives from several embassies, such as Germany and the United Kingdom (UK), countries that supported with equipping this new infrastructure, along with Italy, the Netherlands and Japan.