Africa on the Move: Experts Fashion out Ways to Ease Migration Bottlenecks
For the first time, stakeholders concerned with migration management came together to talk about the challenges facing migration in Africa and how to effectively abolish the log jams.
Dubbed the Accra Forum on Intra-Regional Consultations on Migration, the first Joint Annual Forum for Intra-Regional Consultations of Africa Regional Frameworks on Migration was held between the 16-18 September, 2015 in Accra, Ghana under the theme “Enhancing capacities of Africa Regional Frameworks on Migration to Facilitate Intra-Regional Labour Mobility, Free Movement of Persons and Integrated Border Management.”
The three days forum which will ultimately be an annual gathering to finding solutions to mobility and the Free Movement of Persons in Africa is a joint initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Participants at the conference extensively discussed how to organise and facilitate Intra-Regional Labour Mobility, Free Movement of Persons and Integrated Border Management through sharing of knowledge, information, good practices, experiences and lessons learnt.
While speaking at the conference, AUC Commissioner for Social Affairs, Mr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko said that Africa is not doing enough to stem irregular migration. He emphasised that while every country has a right to control the number of people that migrates into its country, migration is not a crime.
In his welcome address, Ghana Ambassador to Switzerland, H.E Ambassador, Sammie Pesky Eddico, said thousands of migrants have lost their lives while crossing to Europe illegally. This corroborates a statistics unveiled by the IOM at the conference which states that there has been an increase in migrant deaths in the Mediterranean between 2014 and 2015. Mortality rate of migrants increased from 2,223 (between January to September 2014) to 2, 760 deaths January to September 2015.
Ambassador Eddico therefore urged African leaders to remove all security fears that may debar Africans who intend to migrate to other parts of the continent, adding that “there is need for African solution to migrants’ problem in Africa.”
Director General of IOM, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, also corroborated this point by stating that: “Migration is not a problem that needs to be solved; it is a human reality that has to be managed.”
Relatively, ILO regional Director for Africa, Mr Aenas Chuma, noted that Sustainable Development Goals, especially in terms of migration, is a critical condition for Africa and its neighbours, hence “the solution to migration problem in Africa should be found in Africa and within Africa.”
“We need to come out with concrete action (and) make sure that migration becomes a choice than a necessity,” he said.
On her part, Minister of foreign Affairs & Regional Integration of Ghana, Hon. Hanna Tetteh, posits that “When Africa acknowledge that people are its number one access, necessary (migration) policies will be put in place to build our continent.”
“Africans will not thrive if we close the door to the talent within us,” she added.
Recommendations made at the Accra forum, which served as the precursor event towards the preparation of the Africa-EU summit on Migration in Valletta, Malta in November 2015, will contribute to the implementation of the African union (AU) Assembly Declaration on Migration adopted at its 25th Ordinary Session in Johannesburg in June, 2015.
Meanwhile, here are other echoes from the Accra forum that will give you a glimpse on the issue of migration in Africa:
- “We cannot afford to close borders unnecessarily,” –Director, Department of Emergencies (IOM), Mr Mohammed Abdiker
- “Nigeria is the only country to have effectively implemented two policies that ease bottlenecks on migration,” Coordinator of the Network of Migration Research on Africa (NOMRA), Aderanti Adepoju.
- “There is no country in the world today that has not benefitted from the dividends of migration,” Coordinator of the Network of Migration Research on Africa (NOMRA), Aderanti Adepoju.
- “Prioritizing movement of business persons is key to Africa’s economic development process.” – United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Coordinator, African Trade Policy Center, David Luke.
- “It makes sense for a small Island State to open up its borders,” Mauritius Dep. Permanent Secretary, Mrs Anandee Pawan
- “If we close the borders, all we are doing is subsidizing the business of Human traffickers.”
- “Repressive approaches will only drive migration further underground.” Chief of Staff International Organization for Migration, Ovais Sarmad.
The hosting of the Joint Annual Forum for Intra-Regional Consultations of Africa Regional Frameworks on Migration will be rotated based on current Presidencies of RECs, Headquarters of RECs or willing African governments. In this regard, a Technical Secretariat will initially be established within IOM to ensure effective coordination, continuity and sustainability of the annual consultations.