The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kabba has informed delegates that the challenges associated with migration remains worrisome especially for the youths, women and their children who often encounter tremendous hazards in their bid to move across borders mostly in search of jobs and in pursuit of their dreams to lead better lives away from home.
The Minister made this statement at a one-day ‘National Consultation on the Global Compact on Migration – Voice of Sierra Leone’ which was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the European Union on Wednesday 23 May, 2018 at the Ministry’s Conference Hall in Tower Hill, Freetown.
In his keynote address, Dr. Alie Kabba assured the delegates that Government is committed to creating conducive political, economic, social and environmental conditions for Sierra Leoneans to deter desperation compelling them to seek livelihood elsewhere.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, acknowledged the efforts made at international level to build partnerships involving countries of origin, transit and destination. The compact he said, should continue to underpin collective commitment to strengthen cooperation on international migration, which has been part of human experience throughout history. ‘Our Government endorses the need for a comprehensive approach to optimize the benefits of migration as well as addressing the risk associated with the phenomenon’, he added.
Dr. Kabba applauded the EU and other organizations for their support in promoting migration management and appealed that Sierra Leone be considered for the EU trust fund. He requested for more support from partners to complement the effort of IOM.
The Head of Mission-IOM, Sanusi Savage highlighted his organization’s assistance to repatriate with dignity some 300 stranded migrants including men, women and children from Libya within a space of two months.
Mr. Savage recognized the support of the United Nations Country Team, WFP and UNFPA in providing the needed assistance to migrants in the form of rice and dignity kits. He lauded the Foreign Ministry for providing the platform and assured the Minister of IOM’s commitment to continue supporting the Government in its efforts to deliver the fruits of democracy to its people.
‘This National Consultative meeting is not to reflect on what has transpired in the recent past but to forge a national consensus through the proffering of a national solution to an issue of importance to mankind using Government/society approach’, he concluded.
The Head of Delegation, European Union, Ambassador Tom Vens maintained that the EU has been an active partner in addressing the multiple refugee and migrant crisis noting that in 2016, EU Member States granted asylum to over 720, 000 persons and 382, 000 in 2017.
Ambassador Vens disclosed that in the context of their partnership with Africa and with the help of IOM, the EU is funding five transit centers where migrants receive assistance, medical care and psychological support. The crucial point for global compact on migrants, he stated, is to strike a balance in addressing regular and irregular migration. ‘The EU’s approach is shaped by a vision grounded on human rights, responsibility and solidarity’, he added.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Sunil Saigal in his remarks noted that the Global Compact on Migration is expected to be the first inter-governmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. He stated that in adopting 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the UN recognized the positive contribution made by migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development. The UN Resident Coordinator reaffirmed the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recalled the core international human rights treaties.
The welcome statement was earlier delivered by the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Paul Minah.
Presentations and panel discussions on the various topics on migration and the process towards its adoption; protection of labour rights and safe environment for migrant workers; among other issues formed part of the consultative meeting.
The meeting is as a result of international efforts to put formidable mechanisms related to the management of migration and to help Sierra Leone’s priorities on the issue and meaningfully contribute to the Global Compact Conference slated for December this year in Morocco. The Global Compact was born out of the desire to improve the governance on migration and address its attendant challenges vis-à-vis its contribution to sustainable development.
At the end of the conference, delegates were able to design a framework to address migration in the country.