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First Meeting by High Level Panel on International Migration in Africa pushes migration issues to the top of the policy agenda
The first meeting of the High Level Panel on International Migration in Africa (HLPM) highlighted regional migration priorities and actionable commitments that will lead to the successful implementation of the work plan of the Panel in preparation of the final report.
The meeting was held Monday, January 15 in Monrovia in the context of a two-day official visit of the African Development Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, to Liberia at the invitation of the outgoing President, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, who is also chairman of the HLPM. “You’re in Liberia at a time of a democratic transition,” she said to her guests by welcoming them during the opening ceremony. She took the opportunity to thank the President of the African Development Bank for recently accepting the invitation to join the panel. “We deeply appreciate your support and especially your efforts for the development of our country, Liberia,” she told him.
“I very much appreciate your asking me to be a member of the panel,” said Adesina. “It is an honour. I would also like to commend the Africa Union and the Economic Commission for Africa for spearheading this work. The African Development Bank is very pleased to join you on this initiative.”
The African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa initiated the HLPM in 2016 in recognizing the vital role of migration in Africa’s transformation agenda. The High Level Panel on International Migration in Africa will focus on and push critical migration issues to the top of the policy agenda by engaging major stakeholders and partners.
“There’s no doubt that the issues of immigration are at the heart of debates in Europe, given the migration crisis. The fact of the matter is, like it or not, there is a dominating narrative and projection of Africa in a negative light: a place with refugee and migration crises,” the President of the African Development Bank said. “Poverty is an important driver of migration,” he added. “We must encourage work permits across Africa.”
The High Level Panel on International Migration in Africa (HLPM) is composed of 15 eminent persons including representatives of government, the private sector, academia and civil society. The members were selected for their institutional relevance to resolve issues emerging from migration trends in Africa and were invited during the opening ceremony to give brief introductory remarks.
A number of key participants made some of the following comments:
- “Liberia is the story of migration of people that have left and come back. It’s good to have this first meeting here in Monrovia.” – Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
- “Migration needs partnerships and cooperation.” – Oumar Diop, representing Amira Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union Commission.
- “Do not do the mistake that migration or immigration are bad. The issue is not migration itself but the quality of the strategies to make migration successful.” – Aignoje Aig-Imokhoude, Chairman of Coronation Capital Ltd., Nigeria.
- “Migration is everyone’s business. All of us have to tackle it together.” – Danisa E. Baloyi from the Black Caucus Counsel, South Africa.
- “Freedom of movement is key to unlocking the benefits of economic and social development.” – Knut Vollebaek, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway.
- “More people are on the move now than ever before in recorded history.” – Kabla Amihere, Country Director for the International Organization for Migration in Liberia, who represented the IOM Deputy Executive Director, Laura Thompson.
- “We need effective mechanisms for migration. Our challenges are the implementation of policies.” – Cynthia Samuel-Olonjowon, International Labour Organization Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Africa.
The final meeting will take place at the African Union Summit in July 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the Panel is expected to present its main report.
According to President Johnson Sirleaf, “All our work will not be over by the end of the year. “We are therefore charged with being ambassadors for a better understanding of migration in and out of Africa.”