Post-Valletta Summit: AU, Partners Set Agenda for Managing Migration Issues
To mark the International Migrants’ Day, Member States of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities and key stakeholders have met in Nairobi, Kenya to secure a united front on ways to deal with migration in the coming year.
The Nairobi Consultations on Migration was necessary as the African Union Commission and its partners recognised that a comprehensive approach with a long term vision is required to address the root causes of irregular migration and the promotion of regular channels of migration in Africa.
Background to the Post-Valletta Summit on Migration
The Nairobi consultation on migration particularly served as a platform for the African Union to bring all its 54 member states up-to-date on what happened at the Africa-EU Valletta Summit on Migration which took place on11-12 November and moving forward, to also synchronize the action plan of the Valletta Summit with the AU initiatives on migration which are within the framework of AU policies and programs..
It would be recall that the Valletta summit on migration which was held in Malta last month featured only 35 African countries and 2 RECs (ECOWAS & IGAD) plus 28 EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland. The inter-continental meeting was held to discuss ways of addressing the current irregular migration flows into Europe following the death of some 800 migrants in April when their boat capsized in the central Mediterranean.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) about 800,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2015, while some 3,440 have died or gone missing making the journey. The figure of arrivals is set to rise with the European Commission report stating that about 3 million migrants will arrive Europe by the year 2017.
At the Valletta Summit, Member States came up with an Action plan which identified 5 key priority areas that requires immediate action: (i) Migration and Development (ii) Legal migration and mobility (iii) International Protection and Asylum (iv) Irregular Migration, Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (v) Returns and Readmission. The Action Plan also identified 16 priority projects to be implemented by the end of 2016. The plan will be executed with the EU €1.8bn “Trust Fund” set up at the Valletta summit to tackle the economic and security problems that cause people to flee. £100 million have already been pledged with more to come.
Noteworthy is the fact that apart from the various instruments that define AU-EU relations or partnership or the action plan set in the Valletta Declaration and Action plan, the AU has had a continental policy framework on migration since 2006 on which exclusive AU initiatives are anchored. Some of the key flagship programs that have been introduced by the African Union to address various migration related issues in the most comprehensive way include: the AU Commission Initiative against Trafficking (AU.COMMIT) Campaign; the African Union Horn of Africa Initiative (AU-HOAI) on Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants; the African Institute for Remittances (AIR) and the Labour Migration Governance for Integration and Development in Africa (also known as the Joint Labour Migration Programme-JLMP).
The Post-Valletta Summit on Migration
The Nairobi consultations on migration was held to provide a forum for all 54 AU Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to discuss the Migration Agenda for the coming year and to also identify key priority areas that require immediate action thus linking the Valletta Action Plan with AU programmes.
Participants also agreed on a set of actions at national, regional and continental levels that would operationalise the key AU instruments, programs and decisions; including how the EU Trust Fund for migration will be used to advance the AU migration agenda.
As highlighted by the Director of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr Olawale Maiyegun, the priority projects to be implemented in the coming year include: gaining remittances through formal channels by popularizing the African Institute on Remittances and its flagship projects of Sendmoney Africa, stepping up engagement with members in the Diaspora, and ensuring Law enforcement cooperation across the continent.
The African Union Commission also plans to enhance labour migration statistics by strengthening capacity of labour institutions, promote regular channels of migration and mobility within Africa, , commence negotiations on both the Continental Free Trade Area (CFDA) and the Free Movement Protocol at the continental level.On job creation and youth employment, Dr Maiyegun informed that the African Development Bank (AfDB) President, AkinwumiAdesina Chairperson of AU, H.E Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the head on UNECA Carlos Lopez had met 3 times this year and the outcome of their meetings would see the launch of an initiative on job creation that will not only be funded from existing funds but also through financial instruments from the AfDB.
To address the issues of smugglers of migrants, the AUC will work with the IOM, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the League of Arab States and INTERPOL and other partners to improve the capacity of government officials and other state actors who identify with the issues of migration in the coming year. The commission will also be working on promoting the ratification and domestication of relevant regional and international instrument on smuggling of migrants.
All these plans will be implemented in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in which Goals 8, 10 and 17 are aligned with issues of migration.