IGAD Member States Seal Deal On Migration
By Patrick Ocaido
Ministers from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states have unanimously agreed to tackle the issue of immigration and refugees.
Delegates from IGAD member countries of Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan on Thursday gathered at Speke Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo Kampala to deliberate the recommendations of the technical meetings and establish the Sectoral Ministerial Committee on Migration.
This first IGAD meeting on migration comes at a time when its member states are facing an influx of refugees who are been displaced from war-torn areas especially of South Sudan and Somalia.
According to Second Deputy Prime Minister Kirunda Kivejinja, who officially opened the meeting, Uganda has become a home to over 700,000 refugees with over 9,000 immigrants (2013/14), over 8,000 (2014/15) and currently there are over 10,000 immigrants in the country.
“Nobody should feel out of place in Uganda and that is why we have always accommodated immigrants, but there is need to streamline migration policies and that is why we are gathered here,” Kivenjinja said.
He added, “IGAD started as an organization to fight drought and locusts, but now the problem has disappeared. This means that this organization has a record of success and the migration issues will also be managed.”
Elsadig Abdalla who represented IGAD executive secretary called upon other stakeholders to mobilize resources and share experiences on how to tackle challenges of migration.
“Migration is a national and global concern, it is an issue which can only be addressed through partnership and coordination among different member state hence, I am very glad that IGAD took this important and timely initiative to establish this Sectoral Ministerial Committee,” he said.
According to Special envoy (UNHCR) on Somalia refugee situation Amb. Mohammed Affey, conditions in Somalia are not good enough for nationals who are living as refugees in other countries to return massively.
“Somali nationals in other countries are seeking for an opportunity to return home and participate in reconstruction of their country. We therefore appeal for more structures to make their return sustainable through mobilization of resources like good schools, hospitals because there is no dignity to live as a refugee,” Affey said.
He applauded Ugandan government for being pioneer champions of refugee control and asked them to continue sheltering refugees from Somalia.
“They (refugees) require our sympathy and protection. I know fatigue sets in and space continues to shriek but please continue to provide asylum space for refugees as we strive to better structural environment at home,” he added.
Charles Kwenin, the representative of the director general of the International Orgnaisation for Migration (IOM) called for unity and cooperation for a responsible migration management policy.
On the other hand, the state minister for Internal Affairs, Obiga Kania said that Ugandan government has taken a deliberation to include migration and refugees in the national development plan.
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, adding that:
“At the national level, Uganda is ready developing a migration policy; soon we are presenting proposal to cabinet and by next year in June we shall have a migration policy and as a region we shall want to move with the rest of African countries.”