November 22, 2016 By Alusine Sesay
Head of European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Peter Versteeg, has observed that the benefits of well -managed migration and mobility within and between countries and continent could be great, and that it can positively contribute to the economic development in both sending and receiving countries and regions.
Ambassador Versteeg made the above observation during the opening ceremony of a four-day training workshop on Migration Governance held at the Country Lodge Complex in Freetown.
“Migrants can transfer skills and remittances to their homes and boost local labour supply where they are employed. Diasporas can make important and positive contributions to their countries of origin. In the process of regional integration, free movement of labour constitutes one of the key economic foundations, along with the free movement of goods and capital,” he said.
He noted that the free movement of people and goods within the West African sub region was one of the important commonalities between ECOWAS and the European Union.
He stressed on the need to address fundamental rights of migrants by preventing and fighting against migrants smuggling, eradicating trafficking in human beings and fighting those who exploit vulnerable people.
The training workshop was made possible through the jointly EU and ECOWAS Commission funded “Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa” (FMM West Africa) project, which is being implemented by the International Organization for Migration(IOM),the International Centre for Migration Policy and Development (ICMPD),and the International Labour Organization(ILO).In all, three sets of workshops are scheduled to enhance the capacity of officials of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, its partners ministries departments and agencies and social partners in migration management, covering three components-labour migration governance, protection of migrants rights, and enhancing the developmental impacts of migration.
The first set of workshop that kicked off yesterday would focus on Labour migration governance which broadly referred to the creation of a set of rules to regulate the behaviour of states with respect to the movement of people across borders and to take actions in pursuit of shared agenda of safe, secure, legal and orderly migration.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Versteeg continued that : “We expect that this training and the two workshops to follow would contribute to enhancing the migration governance capacity of the Sierra Leone institutions, covering all components of labour migration management; governance, protection of migrant rights and enhancing developmental impacts of migration.
He thanked the ICMPD,IOM and the ILO for what he referred to as their welcomed and essential collaboration in delivering the FMM-West Africa project.
Head of Division, Social Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Alves D’ Almada Fernando Jorge, expressed the solidarity of ECOWAS with the authorities and the people of Sierra Leone and thanked ILO , ICMPD, IOM and the European Union for their technical and financial assistance towards the implementation of the project.
He observed that labour migration was a global phenomenon, but has a particular impact on West Africa where statistics has shown that the region was more important than any other in Africa in terms of migration flow.
“People generally migrate from one country to another in search of better living conditions and this has become a crucial issue for our sub-region both for the problem it raises and for it impact on the development of our countries. Good management of international labour migration can make a significant contribution to the development of both countries of origin and destination of migrants,” he said.
He said the training would increase participants’ understanding of the ECOWAS free movement protocol, equip them with the skills required to understand the process of developing and implementing bilateral labour/ export migration with other countries, among several others.
He urged the need to put in place national and regional mechanisms that would facilitate and allow for a better social integration of West African citizens.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Mathew Teambo said his ministry and other relevant stakeholders have a critical role to play in ensuring a meaningful, balanced and informed response to migration.
“All of us have the responsibility for adopting adequate laws on migration, to give effect to international obligations entered into by Sierra Leone under the international treaty framework, particular with respect to human rights norms and labour standards. Government and stakeholders should promote fair and effective policies in order to maximize the benefit of migration while addressing the real challenges that host, transit and origin countries and migrants face,” he said.
He noted that the training on migration governance was very much important, thus thanking partners including the EU, ECOWAS Commission, ILO and IOM for their support.
Representative from IOM, Sanusi Teja Savage, said the organization was committed to its leadership role in FMM West Africa consortium as well as to supporting migration management in the region and globally.
He recalled that their collaboration with the Ministry of Labour went back to 2010 when IOM implemented a project titled ‘Building National Capacity for Labour Migration Management in Sierra Leone’ under which the labour migration unit was set up at the ministry to enhance the capacity of officials.
“The joint efforts to strengthen labour migration management in Sierra Leone and across the region have been further supported under the Demand Driven Facility (DDF) of the FMM project, particularly through the continuous training of relevant labour ministry officials, the collaboration and adoption of a regional action plan on tripartite social dialogue, development of guide report for the implementation of a labour market exchange across the ECOWAS member states as well as a guide for policymakers on the protection of migrant workers’ rights within the ECOWAS region,” he said.
Through capacity building project and other technical assistance, he said, IOM, ILO, and ICPD have demonstrated a solid commitment to the government and people of SL not only by standing up to be counted when it matters but also by remaining steadfast to the principle that an orderly and properly managed labour migration can be a catalyst to economic development.