East Africa and the Horn of Africa: New agreements promote regional cooperation on migration for sustainable development and workers’ rights

Nairobi – Ministers from 11 countries in East Africa and the Horn of Africa signed two agreements last week, pledging to work together more closely to harness the benefits of migration for the benefit of the sustainable development and economic growth, while strengthening the protection of millions of migrant workers.

Ministers from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda signed an agreement pledging to work together to realize the potential of labor migration as a driver of development in the region at the 3rd Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMMF) in Nairobi, Kenya, on April 1st.

East Africa and the Horn of Africa have over 7.7 million migrant workers . In 2021, remittances from migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa were estimated at $45 billion . According to the IOM Africa Migration Report , more than 21 million African migrants work in other African countries where they fill skills and labor shortages, do business and provide goods. and services.

But labor migrants in the region face various challenges, including a lack of access to human rights, employment rights and other social protections, such as access to the legal system and health care, in countries of origin, transit and destination. They also do not always have access to the services of embassies and consulates during their journey.

Signatories to the FMRM agreement called on member states to ratify applicable human rights and labor laws to create a common approach to migrant workers’ rights, including better access to protection , and ethical recruitment. They also pledged to encourage destination countries to agree on the same issues upon arrival of migrants.

The new agreement also aims to solve the difficulties that some migrants encounter in integrating in their country of origin. Ministers agreed on the need to include these migrants in all national development plans.

FMRM technical groups will continue to identify gaps in skills and labor shortages, financial inclusion and remittances, so that countries can agree on bilateral needs, following Signature.

Kenya has also just handed over to Ethiopia for the Presidency of the FMRM.

“As the new Chairperson of FMRM, Ethiopia will take the lead in facilitating migration forums, targeting issues relating to bilateral labor migration agreements, ethical recruitment, social welfare of migrant workers, cross-border trade and human development – with a particular focus on youth and women empowerment as well as labor migration data and statistics,” said Muferiat Kemil , Ethiopian Minister of Labor and Skills.

As part of a second ministerial agreement, signed on March 31 in Nairobi, ministers and senior officials responsible for labour, home affairs and immigration from partner states of the East African Community (EAC) – including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and the recently admitted Democratic Republic of Congo – have endorsed the establishment of the EAC Regional Consultative Process (RCP) on the migration.

The EAC Migration RCP will serve as a platform for regular consultations and exchange of experiences, good practices and lessons learned among countries in the region. It will promote networking among officials from different ministries and stakeholders, greater coherence and coordination of migration policies in the region, with the aim of improving how migration can contribute to national development.

The endorsement of the PCR will foster a better understanding of the different perspectives on migration in the region, and the identification of common interests and collaborative approaches to migration. In the long term, this collaboration has the potential to improve the protection of migrants’ rights, including access to health care and decent work opportunities abroad, which will help reduce poverty and lower rates of unemployment among young people in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. The PCR will also improve security coordination, particularly with regard to the smuggling of migrants, human trafficking and other cross-border crimes.

“The EAC RCP will create a platform for information sharing and policy dialogue to comprehensively discuss specific issues relating to migration between EAC Partner States,” said Christophe Bazivomo, Secretary Deputy General of the EAC.

On the occasion of the signing of the two agreements, Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa, said: “IOM stands ready to support the governments of the East and Horn of Africa region to explore ways to integrate the outcomes of these two new agreements into national migration and labor migration strategies”.

Source: International Organization for Migration