By Benjamin Sabila
KAMPALA – Ministers from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries held the first regional meeting on immigration at the Speke Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo Kampala on Thursday.
The meeting brings together ministers responsible for migration issues in member countries. IGAD comprises of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.
Under the theme “Migration Policy Development”, two technical meetings were held between 7th and 9th November preceeding the ministerial meeting.
The Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Kirunda Kivejinja opened the meeting in with Obiga Kania, the internal affairs state minister.
A cross-section of delegates attend the meeting. (Credit: Wilfred Sanya)
The ministers from the region deliberated on the recommendations of the technical teams and established the Sectoral Ministerial Committee on Migration as Part of IGAD policy organs.
The IGAD secretariat has been working closely with member states to facilitate the implementation of the five-year IGAD Migration Action Plan (MAP 2015-20202) in line with the Regional Migration Policy Framework (RMPF) adopted in 2012.
One of the main recommendations from RMPF is to have a strong IGAD institutional framework in order to implement, monitor and evaluate the IGAD RMPF. This calls for the strengthening of migration governance within IGAD at both national and regional levels.
Elsadig Abdalla, who represented the IGAD executive secretary, commended the meeting as a step forward in the positive direction.
“The issue of migration has become an important socio-economic challenge which needs to be fixed. We are thus committed to bringing the migration agenda at the forefront. IGAD, therefore, need a regional approach, which is committed to promoting the rights of all migrants in member states and smoothen cross-border mobility.”
Charles Kwenin, the representative of the director general of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), thanked the government of Switzerland for funding the process of formalizing migration processes in the IGAD region.
“IOM is happy to associate with IGAD on migration governance. IGAD is so far the only region with such a framework and we wish to thank the region, especially Uganda and Kenya for making tremendous strides in migration policy. IOM wishes for a policy that promotes rights of citizens and those migrating.
Free movement of people facilitates the regional intergration of Africa.”
He added that Migration is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be managed.
Mohamed Affey, the UNHCR special envoy on the Somali Refugee Situation applauded Uganda for being a champion of refugees, adding that the agency is ready to support IGAD in formulating its refugee policy.
He said the region hosts over 1.2 million refugees from Somalia, urging political leaders to take caution to avoid upheavals that catalyze migration.
The state minister for internal affairs, Obiga Kania, welcomed the dignitaries to the meeting, saying it was an opportunity for Uganda to host the meeting on migration.
“Migration is a phenomenon of biblical proportions. It did not start yesterday, and will continue as the world gets narrower, that is why we need a comprehensive policy on migration,” he said.
He said his ministry is set to present proposals on a national migration policy before cabinet and that by June next year, there will be a framework in place to guide migration.
IGAD ministers pose for a photo with Uganda’s second deputy Prime Minister Kirunda Kivejinja (white suit). (Credit: Wilfred Sanya)
Kirunda Kivejinja, who was the chief guest at the function, said the meeting was one of historical proportions that would define the fate of the region.
“IGAD started as an organization to fight drought and locusts. That problem has now disappeared. This means that the organization has a record of success and the migration issues will also be managed,” he said.
Delivering a speech on behalf of the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, he said Uganda is one of the biggest hosts of refugees in the region.
In 2015-16, Uganda received over 10,000 immigrants.