Online, 31 August 2021 (ECA) - Effective integration of migrants into the community is an important contributor to the economic development of a country, said experts at a thematic round table discussion on Supporting the integration of migrants and their contribution to development organized during the 2021 African regional review of implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) (Aug 26 to Sep 1st).
According to the experts, countries can only make this possible if migrants are allowed to have equal access to public services, social networks and jobs, and to contribute with their skills to local development.
Fiona Braka, Immunization Team Lead for WHO Nigeria, who chaired the session said integration of migrants into the local community requires concerted efforts across all levels of government, but such efforts can yield real benefits. If integrated successfully, migrants contribute to their host countries economically.
But migrants’ integration, she said, faces several challenges like inadequate provision of services, insecurity, and discrimination that needs to be addressed in order for them to be integrated effectively in their countries of destination.
Consulates in these countries also face some challenges in helping migrants to settle in their destination countries, notably the lack of lifesaving services and contingency plans for rescue evacuation and repatriation, she added.
“Getting data at the right scale is essential to improve our policies for migrant integration,” Braka insisted.
James Kur Mourwell from South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said migration is not only a matter of how many people are migrating, but how well they integrate into their host country societies.
“Integration begins from the moment migrants arrive in their host countries, and where migrants settle can affect their paths to integration. Integrating migrants can benefit everyone, as part of efforts to create more inclusive and sustainable,” said Mourwell.
He said South Sudan with its vast resources is both the source, transit, and destination for migration, and that the country’s vast lands harbours more cattle than human population. “South Sudan therefore is ready to host migrants from anywhere.”
Migration and Remittance
Pedro De Vasconcelos, Senior Technical Specialist and Manager of the Financing Facility for Remittances, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said migration creates new livelihood and income opportunities through remittances.
He said a reduction in remittances has the potential to reverse the development progress made on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs
“Mobility restrictions by countries leads to a reduction in remittance to the continent which have major ripple effects across entire local economies and communities,” said Pedro.
“It is therefore important that action is taken to address challenges that hinder mobility of migrants to ensure that remittances from migrants and from wider diaspora communities keep flowing, including through supporting greater access to and use of digital technologies.”
It is estimated that 1 Billion people are involved worldwide in remittances and 200 million migrants send money home and that benefit around 800 million family members.
Mr. Pedro said African countries should realize that remittances are for fighting poverty and impact communities through savings, job creation. 75% of remittances goes to the basic needs.
He said remittance flows have proved to be resilient during the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries reached $540 billion, only 1.6 percent below the $548 billion seen in 2019. Remittances exceeded foreign direct investment flows by a wider margin in 2020.
He noted that remittances sent to Sub Sahara Africa last year was estimated to be $42billion, which is 2.6% lower than that of the previous year.
“Trends of flows of remittance to some countries like Egypt, Gambia, Zimbabwe, Togo, Tunisia have been positive,” said Pedro adding that many countries have adopted the digital tools to send and receive remittances. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped countries adopt the digital platforms of sending money.
“Financial literacy is important to enable recipients to make decisions on the use of the money. This will help maximize the use of the flows and this will in the end benefit the country.”
Mamadour Goita from the Pan Africa Network in Defence of Migrant Rights said there are several abuses faced by migrants inside the continent as well as outside. The internal challenges must be addressed for the development of the continent.
“Labor governance policies need to be implementation and must be consistent with the regional and continental policies,” said Goita.
She said dialogue between state and stakeholders is important in addressing issues of migration is important in creating initiatives to address the challenges migrants face in their countries.
“Migrants should be prepared before their departure, in transit and destination. The capacity of states to develop skills for migrants needs to be strengthened,” said Goita
“Migration must be considered as a right because of the protocol on free movement of people, the protocol Protection of human rights as stipulated in the Africa’s Agenda 2063.”
Thandie Mwape Villadsen, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said conflict is no longer the sole driver of migration, climate change, diminishing natural resources are pushing numbers of migrants.
She said more is needed to implement the frameworks on migration to enable us see migration as an opportunity rather than a problem.
“AfCFTA should be implemented by African countries to guarantee free movement of migrants on the continent and ensure they access social needs equally,” said Villadsen
Jointly organized by the UN Network on Migration, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM); held in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), and hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco, the Africa Regional Review Conference of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was an opportunity to review regional, sub-regional and national progress towards the implementation of the GCM in Africa.
The GCM is a cooperative framework aiming to address international migration in all its dimensions including identifying new priorities and additional resources required to fully implement the Global Compact for Migration in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Africa, the focus of GCM is to help countries address the complex issues of migration cycle like protecting the lives and dignity of African migrants, preventing, and combatting discrimination, abuse, and exploitation.
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