THAMM Programme Held its First Regional Conference on Labour Migration Responses to Covid-19 Crisis in European and North African Countries

Rabat, 7 July 2021- In close collaboration with the European Commission (EC), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) co-organised a virtual regional conference - from 5 to 7 July - on labour Migration Responses to COVID-19 in European and North African Countries, the first in the “Towards a Holistic Approach to Labour Migration Governance and Mobility in Norh Africa“ (THAMM) Programme.

Entitled “Labour Migration Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis in European and North African Countries: Strategic and Operational Trends, Lessons and Sharing of Experience”, the event aimed to document and explore policy changes 18 months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the event representatives from governments, social partners and academia from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia as well as ILO, IOM, ETF, OECD and international experts presented latest policy observations and findings from recent research produced in the framework of THAMM and beyond. With 190 registered participants from North Africa and Europe, the conference was an opportunity to:

  • take stock of current labour migration and mobility trends observed within and between the EU and North Africa;
  • reflect over mid-term results achieved within the THAMM programme and strengthen collaboration and information sharing among all partners
  • facilitate exchange among a range of labour migration and mobility stakeholders to help build consensus of practice around establishing regular pathways including in a crisis situation;
  • identify common approaches towards preparing for the post-crisis phase of “building forward better” based on lessons learned in 2020 and 2021.

As Michelle Leighton, ILO Labour Migration Branch Chief, highlighted in her introduction,“ the COVID-19 crisis has revealed how critical it is to uphold the International Labour Standards upheld by the ILO, particularly for migrant workers, who occupy essential positions in often precarious contexts”. Michelle Leighton also emphasized that the “ILO sees the THAMM programme both as an innovative pilot, which will produce original knowledge products and operational tools but also a vehicle to ensure the sustainability of ILO’s past and current interventions in North Africa (such as IRAM, AMEM, or FAIR) on labour migration governance, skills and labour migration statistics and information systems.“

In the words of Marina Manke, Head of Labour Mobility and Human Development at IOM, “this 1st regional conference helped take stock of the existing labour mobility ecosystem in the Mediterranean and once again highlighted the need to approach challenges – both systemic but also caused by the pandemic – in a whole of government and whole of society way. Governments and partners on both shores of the Mediterranean have started to form new partnerships on a skills based migration management in the interest of both – the sending countries and the receiving countries. This can help overcome immediate negative impact of the crisis but will also put a basis for a solid foundation for future mobility in the region along safe, regular and development oriented manner”.

Henrike Trautmann, acting director, DG NEAR European Commission, underlined that the EU via THAMM is working together with EU MS and the North African countries to promote concrete initiatives that respond to the political priority of legal migration. THAMM supports the implementation of the “New Pact on Migration and Asylum”, which includes stronger cooperation on mutually beneficial international and right-based labour migration and the new concept of Talent Partnerships.

Magdalena Jagiello, acting head of unit, DG HOME European Commission, outlined the EU work towards …developing Talent Partnerships, building upon experience with pilot projects on legal migration. Talent Partnerships, developed together with partner countries, will match real labour market skills and needs and meet the interests of countries of origin, countries of destination and the migrants themselves.

THAMM proposes to approach labour migration holistically, in terms of both technical dimensions (governance frameworks, skills recognition and qualification, statistical data and information systems) and end beneficiaries (integration of foreign workers into labour markets and assistance to national workers seeking employment abroad). THAMM is an international cooperation programme implemented by ILO, IOM, the Belgian Development Cooperation Agency (Enabel) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. This programme is co-financed under the North Africa window of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Partner countries are Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

This regional conference is implemented through the ILO/IOM component funded by the European Union.



For information on the THAMM programme and partnership, please contact:


Ms Aurelia SEGATTI,