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Sierra Leone launches National Migration Policy

July 30, 2018

By Yusufu S. Bangura

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Minister of Labour and Social Security Adekunle King

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Adekunle King, last Thursday launched the National Labour Migration Policy with the overall objective to advance opportunities for all men and women to engage in migration for decent and productive employment, conditions of freedom, dignity, security and equity.

The launch of the policy took place at Mitta Conference Centre, Youyi Building in Freetown.

During the launch, Minister King said the policy has strategies that would add value to labour migration and minimise its negative impact on the economy and society, more specifically for migrant workers and families.

King averred that many young Sierra Leoneans are of the view that they need to move to the other side of the world to be able to eke out a living, but noted that many challenges have been associated with migration.

He stated that as a ministry, they engaged in migration management with the principal aim of developing a national labour migration policy for Sierra Leone, which aims to develop a long term vision for labour migration in the country within the framework of the country’s overall development strategies in the New Direction.

He noted that the ministry would make migration an option and not a must because they are of the view that young people of Sierra Leone are sitting on a minefield.

The Labour Minister said the overarching aim of the policy was to harness the leadership potential of young people, thus reiterating that in their commitment to implementing the labour migration policy, they recognised the role and responsibilities placed on key stakeholders and actors in the process and would establish monitoring and reporting mechanisms on its implementation and realisation of objectives.

‘’I would be  committed to the national labour migration policy to provide the framework for proper labour migrant governance, protection of migrants and their families and to enhance the developmental impact of migration for countries of origin and destination. The policy I know is a guide and merely a tool for accountability,’’ he said.

A representative from the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Sven Ruesch, who is also Team Leader Governance and Civil Society, said the benefits of well-managed migration and mobility within countries and continents can positively contribute to economic development in both sending and receiving countries and regions within countries.

Ruesch noted that migrants can transfer skills and remittances home, boost local labour supply and fill skill gaps where they are employed.

He added that all that was required is sound legal frameworks and policies for the protection and empowerment of migrants and their families, and for enhancing the developmental impacts of migration.

“The EU’s approach is shaped by a vision grounded on human rights, responsibility and mutual solidarity, a vision where the most vulnerable ones are protected, vision in which there is no place for traffickers, smugglers and criminal organisations, vision where irregular migration is reduced, and instead we have the courage to invest in more regular and safe channels for migrants,” he said.

The EU diplomat revealed they have co-funded preparation of the Sierra Leonean Labour Migration Policy through the project “Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa).”

“This support is a testimony to the priority that we give to strengthening regular migration. As you all know, migration is a complex topic with many facets. Europe has been faced with a large-scale crisis of irregular migration in recent years, leading to the tragic deaths of thousands who tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea and stranded in often inhuman conditions,” he said.

He further noted that in the context of partnership with Africa and with the help of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), they were funding several transit centres where migrants receive assistance, medical care and psychological support.

‘’People should never risk their lives when seeking a better future abroad. We are working towards stronger economic development of the country as a whole to improve education and agriculture and food security. In addition, we provide direct support to the budget of the government to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth and we believe the NLMP can serve as a good base for complementing long-term development of Sierra Leone with well managed migration and wish you success with its implementation.”

ECOWAS representative, Guite Diop, thanked the Ministry of Labour for their support to the organisation and other partners for the support to the free movement of migrants in West Africa.

He noted that the meeting was very significant for the process of implementing the national labour policy in order to strengthen the good governance of labour migration, promote and protect migrant workers right and enhance contribution of Sierra Leone emigrants for national development.

Diop further noted that the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons accords right to everyone, by allowing citizens of the community to enter and establish economic activities within the territory of member states.

“We are committed to the implementation of the gender of people and migration framework and it action plan,’’ he added.