29 October 2016

Uganda: Experts to Meet in Kampala Over Migration Policy

Countries in eastern Africa are moving to domesticate the regional migration policy in the wake of a rise in the flow of immigrants from the region to Europe.

The recent visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Ethiopia, where the flow of migrants from the region to Europe was a key agenda, has given more impetus to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) partner states to review and harmonise their migration policies.

Igad partner states will from November 7 to 10 meet in Kampala, Uganda, to tackle the challenges of migration in what experts say has been influenced by Ms Merkel's visit to Mali, Niger and Ethiopia. She promised more development aid to reduce poverty that pushes more people from the region to Europe.

The migration experts and policy makers will not only focus on migration as a peace and security issue, but also tackle its positive aspects such as; migration for regional integration, migration for technology transfer and financial remittances, education and employment opportunities.

Eritrea is the leading source of migrants to Europe, followed by Somalia, Ethiopia and Nigeria. In 2014, over 48,000 Eritrean migrants sought asylum in the European Union, mainly entering the Eurozone by crossing the Mediterranean with smugglers, mainly from Libya.

Igad had adopted the Regional Migration Policy Framework (RMPF) in 2012, but only Uganda and Kenya, out of the eight partner states, are developing national migration policies that would deal with migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

The Igad regional migration policy framework is based on the principle that combating irregular migration and establishing comprehensive migration management systems can contribute to enhancing national and international security and stability.

It is also meant to harmonise labour and employment laws within the region and also track migrations from the region to the international state that contributes to technology transfer and financial remittances.

According to Caroline Njuki, the Igad regional migration co-ordinator, the meeting will discuss how to consolidate various laws that deal with migration into a single policy framework.

"The challenge the region has been having is the lack of a co-ordinated voice when it comes to international summits on migration, which forces countries to defend themselves bilaterally. For instance, Igad countries must negotiate with countries in the Middle East on human rights and how they ought to treat migrants from the region working in their countries," said Ms Njuki.

Apart from forced migration due to conflict and repression, there are migrations of peasants due to natural calamities and the seasonal mobility of agro-pastoralist communities within the region and those seeking better opportunities in Europe, the Middle East, the US and South Africa.

According to International Organisation for Migration, three main routes exist for voluntary migration: the Northern Africa route (from sub Saharan Africa to North Africa and Europe); the Gulf of Aden route (from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and beyond); and the Southern route, from the East and Horn of Africa to South Africa and beyond.

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