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General News of Monday, 25 July 2011

Source: GNA

Regional conference on migration in Africa opens

Accra, July 25, GNA- A two-day Regional conference on labour migration management in Africa on Monday opened in Accra to discuss the benefits of circular labour migration schemes and strengthen networking among European Union and African Union member countries.

The conference, which is being organized by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) under the theme: 93Harnessing the Benefit= s of Organised Labour Migration Management across Africa in partnership with the European Union: The Option of Circular Migration," has over 65 participants from Africa, Europe and North American countries.

Participants would have the opportunity to assess the overall benefits of the Labour Migration Project for West Africa (LAMIWA), which was introduced by the OIM to facilitate a coherent migration management approac= h in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Libya in 2006, by promoting legal migration and preventing further irregular migration to each participating country. Mr Charles Kwenin, Senior Regional Advisor for Sub-Saharan Africa, IOM= , said participants would gain an overall understanding of the different regional bodies' approach to labour mobility in order to promote circular migration and understand the importance of strong migration partnerships between the member states of the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU).

He underscored the critical role and contributions of labour migration to societies and economies world-wide and described migration as humanities= ' oldest action against poverty, development, dignity and a decent life. He said migrants had continued to play positive roles in the development of world economies such as in building up the Post World War II economies of North America, Australia, while they continued to contribute towards the strengthening of the social and economic development of economies of European countries over the past several decades. Mr Kwenin noted that given the global demographic and labour market trends and the widening North-South disparities, large scale migration had become both inevitable and unavoidable and 93if intelligently and humanely managed, also desirable and necessary".

He cited the current issue of youth unemployment and the North South divide, which was not getting smaller as the driving force of labour migration in most African countries and 93the question of how to manage th= e situation calls for closer collaboration from all stakeholders." Mr Kwenin stated, however, that migrants and their descendants were no= w recognized as key actors in the development agenda of a number of developin= g countries and their values stemmed not only from what they could contribute from afar in terms of remittances, but also from what they could bring upon their return to their countries of origin in the areas of financial, human and social capital. "These developments substantiate the fact that migration is here to s= tay and both governmental and non-governmental actors have to heighten recognition of migration as an integral part of the global economy and sustainable development," he said.

Mr Kwenin said the main challenge now was to formulate and implement humane and equitable labour migration policies that deployed the developmen= t potential of migrants for the benefit of their countries of origin as well as the countries of destination.

He said the IOM would continue to work closely with the EU and AU as well as the regional economic communities in Africa in order to support their joint efforts in providing migration services and technical assistanc= e in a wide array of migration management, including labour migration. Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare (MESW), spoke on the Circular Labour Migration Scheme between Ghana and Italy and invited other countries in the EU and elsewhere to partner Ghana in establishing similar Labour Migration schemes to foster legal migration and ease the burden of the influx of illegal migrants on host and transit governments.

He thanked the Italian Government for the support and commitment toward= s the success of the project, which the country joined in the year 2008. He explained that under the Scheme, 20 Ghanaian migrant workers had been selected to work in the farming sector in Italy for three months after which proper exit systems would be put in place to ensure their safe arriva= l back home.

The Minister said as a pilot scheme there was the need for the promotion of policies pertaining to return migration schemes in order to unearth the potential benefits of such programmes for the sending countries= .. Mr Mensah said Ghana recognized labour migration as a socio-economic reality and therefore greatly appreciated the benefits derived from the partnership and emphasized on the placement of well structured and well-managed labour migration scheme to ensure adequate protection for both employees as well as the employer, as both come within the eye of the Law. He said benefits of the Scheme include cultural exchanges and friendship between the sending and receiving communities as well as the creation of understanding and closer relationship between the sending and the host governments.

In addition he said, it also tended to create an incentive for migrant= s to be law abiding and to return home on schedule since it provided a legal entry and exit scheme for work and wealth enhancement. He hoped that participants would by the end of their deliberations gained deeper insight into good practices and lessons learnt from other schemes used as the basis for the development and implementation of future circular migration programmes. "It is also my hope that you would formulate a set of practical recommendation and implementation guidelines to enhance further cooperation in the area of circular migration between member states in the EU and Africa," he said. Mr Mensah pledged the government's commitment to establish formal and legal relationships with various countries through bilateral agreements to enhance labour migration.

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