Description of the project




Assistance and Protection of the Most Vulnerable Migrants in West Africa   


The European Union (The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa).


Spanish Red Cross (consortium leader), Danish Red Cross and Luxembourg Red Cross International Aid.  The National Red Cross Societies of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Senegal and The Gambia are implementing the project activities.


36 months (01.15.2020-01.14.2023)


The project ” Assistance and Protection of the Most Vulnerable Migrants in West Africa” funded by the European Union seeks to contribute to protecting and supporting the most vulnerable migrants along the main migration routes from West Africa and the Sahel to North Africa through access to basic services as well as strengthening the capacity of state and non-state actors to provide assistance for the protection of vulnerable migrants.

The action was identified following consultations between the five National Red Cross Societies of the target countries (Senegal, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali,) and the Spanish, Luxembourgand DanishRed Cross with the aim of implementing the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Global Migration Strategy 2018-2022 at the West Africa sub-regional level.

The project aims to reduce the risks to which migrants are exposed on the migration routes through three components:

(1) Direct and immediate assistance to migrants with basic services such as health care, psychosocial assistance, access to temporary shelter, while taking into account the specific needs of the most vulnerable migrant groups, mainly women and children;

(2) Training and sensitization of host communities and their access to basic services provided by the action to reduce migrants’ exposure to conflict with host communities and their stigmatization;

(3) Advocacy with state actors for the development and implementation of public policies for the protection of migrants at national and regional levels. A strong awareness-raising of local actors and services in contact with migrants is needed to ensure that they have more knowledge about the protection needs of migrants in vulnerable situations, so that migrants receive more appropriate and effective assistance.

These three components of the action aim to contribute to the realization of the rights of the most vulnerable migrants along the main migratory routes between West Africa and the Sahel towards North Africa while guaranteeing a safe and protected environment in which migrants live without the risk of facing abuses of their fundamental rights as well as of their dignity and integrity.

Project beneficiaries

Although the migrant population, specifically those in transit, are the main beneficiaries of the services provided by this project, the population of the host communities benefit from these services in order to respect the principle of “do no harm”, as well as for reasons of social cohesion and conflict prevention.

In this sense, at least 70% of the services provided are for migrants, and 30% are for the population of the host communities.


The main activities of the project in terms of direct and immediate assistance to the most vulnerable migrants are the following  :  emergency temporary accommodation, medical assistance, psychosocial support, access to food and non-food items (hygiene, clothing), emergency assistance to those rescued at sea (in The Gambia only), case management and counselling, information on risks and immediate protection measures, and communication and information sessions with local communities.


Capacity-building activities for actors in contact with migrants, such as various trainings, to increase their knowledge, awareness and understanding of the protection needs of migrants in vulnerable situations. The aim here is to ensure that migrants receive more appropriate and effective assistance.


Advocacy actions at the national level adressed to state actors, in favor of access to protection services for migrants, reminding the authorities of their obligations towards migrants, are actively carried out at the level of each country through dissemination actions and communication on the principles of protection.

Approach to the project


The project does not seek to prevent or encourage migration, but to protect the rights of migrants. The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, including humanity, impartiality and independence, underpin our purely humanitarian work in this project.

For this reason, the action also takes into account key cross-cutting elements, including (1) gender and specific vulnerabilities, with awareness-raising, identification and protection activities for the most vulnerable migrants (women, unaccompanied minors), (2) respect for migrants’ human rights, (3) the sustainability of the achievements in the field, which is guaranteed by the very strong local presence of the National Red Cross Societies throughout the territory concerned by the action, as well as by the local appropriation of the project’s achievements by the communities, (4) analysis and sensitivity to conflicts, through social inclusion activities and the fight against discrimination of migrants on the one hand, and on the other hand, the identification of regions in conflict situations or with difficult access, while proposing interventions adapted to local conditions, (5) good governance, where the action is based on coordination and consultation with state actors as well as advocacy with these actors for the inclusion and respect of migrants’ rights.

Also, the action is based on the IFRC’s concept of Humanitarian Service Points (HSP) for vulnerable migrants. HSPs aim to provide essential services to vulnerable migrants throughout their migration journey, regardless of their status, in a safe place, without fear of arrest or reporting to the authorities. The HSP is a neutral place on the migration route, which aims to provide a welcoming and safe environment for migrants and the opportunity to access essential services. HSPs can be fixed or mobile to reach migrants wherever they are. Through HSP, the IFRC aims to contribute to the protection of migrants, their safety and dignity, and to promote their resilience. The operating model is situation-specific – in some places basic information can be provided, in others basic health services. The HSP must be implemented according to the contexts, capacities and resources of National Societies and the needs of migrants.

The approach to action takes into account the changing nature of the migration phenomenon, where flows on certain routes may change overnight in favour of new routes more suited to the socio-political realities of the moment. To address this phenomenon, the action is built on the principles of flexibility, adaptabilityand resilience. The majority of the services for migrants foreseen by the action are designed as mobile service points, so that the assistance system can adapt to a complex and changing situation.