Meet the PROMIS* Champions

09-11-2020

Every week, we introduce you to one of the PROMIS project champions. People from all over West Africa who, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, have continued to defend the rights of migrants and victims of human trafficking throughout the global health pandemic.

*The PROMIS project is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that aims to strengthen the capacity of West African states to develop a human rights-based response to migrant smuggling and to respond effectively to human rights violations related to irregular migration. The initial implementation of the project focuses on Mali, Niger, Senegal, The Gambia, and Côte d'Ivoire, with a subsequent extension to other West African countries.

The champion of the week:

Papa Meissa Gueye is the coordinator of the association Rester et Réussir, which works to bring artistic solutions to the various problems facing young people. For him, in Senegal, the main difficulties encountered by migrants since the COVID-19 pandemic are mostly economic. 

Below is an excerpt from the interview conducted with OHCHR. To read the full interview (in french), click here

 

Who is Papa Meissa Gueye?

I am a trained artist, director, cultural entrepreneur and community development worker who has traveled extensively around the world. Very committed to my community, I am involved in many citizen actions. Apolitical, I work in the social and awareness-raising of young Senegalese, especially those from the suburbs of Dakar, to encourage them to believe that everything is possible in life and that nothing is impossible.

You are the coordinator of the association Rester et Réussir. What does your work within this structure consist of?

Rester et Réussir is an association created in Dakar and is composed of African artists living in Senegal. The work of the association consists, at the beginning, in bringing artistic solutions to the different problems faced by young people. This is why we had to develop a project with the German cooperation on the prospects of the success of young people in the country. Within this framework, a comic strip entitled SUNU REUSSITE (which means "our success" in Wolof ) was produced as well as a musical soundtrack Affaire bi Fii la (the affair is here). The association is interested in everything that concerns young people.

What projects are you currently working on?

In addition to the project on Intercultural Dialogue and Dignity for all in Africa, with the European Union, we are collaborating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the framework of the PROMIS project through which we are developing the Legal Clinic for Migrants. PROMIS has granted us a grant for a period of one year to carry out the activities of the Migrant Legal Clinics, following a call for proposals that we applied for. The collaboration is very healthy and we always strive to give the best of ourselves in the execution of the project, and we take this opportunity to thank the PROMIS team for the trust they have placed in us.

How have you or your organization reacted to ensure the protection of migrants' rights during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Together with our volunteer lawyers specialized in migrant law, we have tried to react to the difficulties encountered by migrants. For example, when it came to repatriating migrants, we did not fail to refer the matter to the consular authorities of the countries concerned to see how they could intervene so that the migrants could return to their countries. This was notably the case with Cote d'Ivoire and the dozens of migrants stranded here. Migrants who have undocumented children too. We had taken their file in hand but unfortunately, with the pandemic, we could not find civil status documents for them. This is what pushes us to think about a project to find civil status documents for these many children of migrants who are here in Senegal without any documents.

As part of the PROMIS project, what story linked to the COVID-19 pandemic that made an impact on you and you'd like to share?

Since the beginning of the pandemic we have had many experiences with migrants and (individuals) impacted who believed that we were able to help them financially. Nevertheless, we have been able to measure the extent of the questions they are asking us. This means that we must continue to carry out projects that are part of the improvement of the migrants' living conditions. They face many problems. We appeal to the people of the world to think about migrants especially in these times of COVID-19. Because the measures taken by our States, especially in Africa, do not directly affect migrants. We are going to put together a bank of requests from migrants that we will submit to some partners to see what is possible to do, to support migrants a little bit during this period.

 

For more information:

Discover the PROMIS* champions who are working for the protection and promotion of the human rights of migrants during COVID 19

The interview in full (in French) : Papa Meissa Gueye