KAMPALA – The Government of Kenya in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday 20 January convened a two-day ministerial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, to promote harmonization of regional approaches as well as enhancing coordination of labour migration management.
“The Regional Ministerial Forum on Harmonizing Labour Migration Policies in East and Horn of Africa” was attended by ministers responsible for labour migration and social affairs from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia.
Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Friday, January 24, Uganda’s Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, highlighted that the meeting aimed at discussing a number of priorities including a coordinated strategy on the negotiation of Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs) with the European Union and Gulf Cooperation Countries.
The meeting also aimed at sharing information to foster safe and orderly labour mobility, and enhancing skills of Government stakeholders on the establishment of an effective mechanism of preparing migrant workers for employment abroad.
Promoting regional cooperation in combatting trafficking in persons, protecting the rights of African migrant workers abroad, strengthening regional cooperation on labour mobility and the capacity of labour migration management institutions were also discussed.
In the press statement, Hon. Tumwebaze revealed that East and Horn of Africa countries resolved to revise their laws to facilitate portability of social security benefits to include migrant workers, to strengthen national statistical institutions and data collection mechanisms as well as cooperation on exchange and analysis to inform policies and labour migration governance. Also discussed was the need to regulate private employment agencies.
“Members states should establish collaboration on diplomatic and consular assistance for migrants’ workers in particular countries where some states don’t have diplomatic representation, while at the same time promote and support the role of diaspora in assisting migrant workers and protecting their rights in vulnerable situations,” said Hon. Tumwebaze.
Erika De Bona Fofana, the acting IOM Uganda Chief of Mission, said that despite efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant workers, millions remain vulnerable as significant risks persist during the migration process. She said it was crucial for countries in the region to come together to discuss and agree on common challenges, exchange expertise and lessons learnt on specific issues and agree on joint approaches that can help overcome national challenges.
She further said that the regional ministerial forum, organized by the Government of Kenya, set a milestone for a process of regional collaboration that would support the whole region in the long term to promote safe, orderly and humane migration.
“IOM remains committed to support the Government of Uganda and migrants to ensure that migrations happen in a humane, orderly and safe manner and are beneficial for both the country of origin and destination,” Ms Fofana added.