Minister says ‘labour migration is not a new phenomenon’


...As FMM West Africa supports development of national labour migration policy  

April 26, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr Matthew Teambo, has stated that labour migration was far from being a new phenomenon.

The minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day review workshop of the national labour policy, supported by Demand Driven Facility (DDF).

The European Union and ECOWAS – Economic Community of West Africa States – funded project called “Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa” (FMM West Africa), which aims to review the national labour policy of Sierra Leone, commenced at the New Brookfield Hotel in Freetown, yesterday.

According to Dr Teambo, men and women had been leaving their homelands in search of better lives elsewhere for centuries. “The difference now is that labour migration is far more wide spread phenomenon in this era of globalisation than before due to improvement in international communication and transportation systems,” he said.

He said it was imperative that Sierra Leone is proactive in developing programmes to harness the benefits of organised labour migration for national development.

“This is the first time that an effort is made to document our national aspirations and expectations out of a well-managed labour system. Migration is emerging as one of the most critical, social and economic issues of this decade and a labour migration policy will articulate state commitment to ensuring a labour migration that adheres to the principles of good governance, right and responsibilities, enshrined in international instruments and national laws,” he stated.

He added that there would be opportunities for decent and productive employment in conditions of freedom, dignity, security and equity for all men and women engaged in labour migration.

Coordinator of Demand Driven Facility (DDF) of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Marco Bordignon, said the ultimate objective of the DDF action was to provide technical assistance to the Sierra Leonean government, and more specifically the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in enhancing capacity to manage labour migration.

He added that in order to achieve the said objective, DDF supports capacity building programmes as well as revision of the current draft labour migration policy, with the goal of finalising it.

“The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) believes that migration is first about people and welcomes every opportunity to work with national governments in enhancing the migration management, for the benefit of the population in Sierra Leone and in West Africa as whole. This technical assistance to the government of Sierra Leone is provided within the framework of the DDF for national institution, which is one of the components of the project ‘Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa’, FMM West Africa for short,” he elucidated.

He said the FMM West Africa project was jointly funded by the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission, and implemented by a consortium of partners which include the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as leader, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and International Labour Organization (ILO), adding that ICMPD leads the implementation of the Demand Driven Facility for national institutions.

Head of the European Delegation in Sierra Leone, Ambassador Peter Versteeg, said that in a bid to address the problem of migration, the EU had provided 1.8bn Euros to countries which are the sources of migrants, adding that funds have been approved for most critical countries of labour migration.

“We want to create a synergy between ECOWAS and EU countries so as to address issues affecting migrants everywhere,” he said and noted that in Sierra Leone the EU works closely with the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) in order to structure the public sector with regards labour force in Sierra Leone.

Ambassador Versteeg stated that the EU was also working tirelessly in ensuring protection for displaced persons.

A representative of the International Organization for Migration, Sylvester Deen, said they had embarked on mobility mapping along the borders of Sierra Leone. He said they had also been providing assistance to failed asylum seekers to help them reintegrate into society.