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Migration should be utilised to attain development goals

Migration should be utilised to attain development goals

Staff Reporter
IF governed robustly, the migration of people has the potential to be fully recognised as a development enabling mechanism which can bring about the attainment of development goals.
President Hage Geingob said during the official opening of the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MDSA) Ministerial Meeting, currently under way in Windhoek that the various authorities should ensure that migration within the Southern African Development Community and Africa is viewed in a positive light and seen as a means through which people can aspire to greater dignity, safety and a better future.
“Platforms like this, have brought about consensus among both humanitarian and development actors that migration has a role in development and that the phenomenon which was long considered only as a ‘development problem’ is increasingly being recognized as a potential ‘development enabler’, if managed properly. This would require the players to put in place robust migration governance frameworks accompanied by cooperation at the global, continental, regional, national, as well as local levels,” Dr. Geingob said.
President Geingob said the gradual recognition of migration as an important element of the development discourse has taken place through various global processes in the recent past, including those that focus on related issues, although without a direct implication on migration.
“Notably, the integration of migration in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015, constituted a major milestone in advancing a holistic view on migration and migrants. Under the mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’, the 2030 Agenda made inclusivity a central principle of the process,” he said.
Dr. Geingob was of the opinion that a number of targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be fully achieved if migrants and migration are not adequately considered in development policies.

President Geingob’s full address at the official opening of the MDSA Ministerial Meeting reads as follows:

I am pleased to have been invited to officiate at the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MDSA) Ministerial Conference, under the theme “Regional Migration Governance and Sustainable Development: Priorities for the Southern Africa Region”.
In November 2010, the Ministers responsible for migration in the Southern African Region met here for the first time, under the auspices of the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA) Ministerial Conference. Since that meeting, the ministerial conference of MIDSA has been held on a biennial basis. It is therefore an honour for Namibia to host this very important meeting.
I am pleased to note that since its inception, the MIDSA platform has played a pivotal role in shaping policy development on migration in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region, as well as raising awareness on the importance to mainstream migration in our countries’ development agendas. This conference therefore grants us another opportunity to further deepen cooperation in areas of mutual concern and develop new areas of focus.
In today’s world, migration trends are rapidly evolving, thereby necessitating a shift in approach by governments, as well as other stakeholders’. Platforms like this, have brought about consensus among both humanitarian and development actors that migration has a role in development and that the phenomenon which was long considered only as a ‘development problem’ is increasingly being recognized as a potential ‘development enabler’, if managed properly. This would require the players to put in place robust migration governance frameworks accompanied by cooperation at the global, continental, regional, national, as well as local levels.
The gradual recognition of migration as an important element of the development discourse has taken place through various global processes in the recent past, including those that focus on related issues, although without a direct implication on migration. Notably, the integration of migration in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015, constituted a major milestone in advancing a holistic view on migration and migrants. Under the mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’, the 2030 Agenda made inclusivity a central principle of the process.
Hence, a number of targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be fully achieved if migrants and migration are not adequately considered in our development policies.
The adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in December 2018 is yet a step in the right direction in bringing the world closer to greater cooperation in the area of migration management. It is good to note that the global compact promotes the use of legal channels of migration, as well as the observance of the rights of migrants.
Continentally, African Heads of State and Government have adopted the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment on 29 January 2018. The protocol aims to enhance African unity across the continent and thereby, buttress the integration of African economies. Attaining the goals of this noble initiative will not be easy, but its adoption sets the foundation for future progress.
At the regional level, I am happy to note that SADC is making progress on the Migration Policy Framework for the Region which this meeting will also review. There is a need for urgency on this instrument in order to ensure that the free movement of African persons within SADC becomes a reality.
In terms of Namibia, it is gratifying to note that efforts are being made to draft a National Migration Policy (NMP). It is expected that once adopted; the NMP will bring about greater clarity on matters of migration management. On a positive note, last year, Namibia ratified the SADC Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons. In addition, Namibia has exempted diplomatic and official passports of 53 African countries from visa requirements. Such a move will ease State to State engagements and bolster Intra-Africa business and investment.
Africa continues to battle with irregular migration and displacement of citizens due to conflicts and the search for better economic conditions. We have also noted with concern that Africans lose their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on route to seek refuge in Europe. We need to create conditions in Africa that will keep our people on the continent and entice those citizens that have left, to return. At the same time, we need to promote the re-admission and reintegration of the diaspora back to Africa. Such efforts will ensure that our people can return to their countries of origin with dignity and contribute to the development of the continent.
The practitioners in the migration related sphere are integral to the success of our endeavours on migration at continental, regional and national levels. The SADC Secretariat should help Member States in the development of appropriate policies to ensure smooth management of migration.
This will however only materialize if the officials dealing with migration are adequately capacitated to manage migration for the benefit of our countries.
Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon once said, “Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family.”
Let us keep that thought in mind as we deliberate on migration within our region. Let us ensure that migration within SADC and Africa is viewed in a positive light and seen as a means through which our people can aspire to greater dignity, safety and a better future. We owe it to our people, as we are all part of the regional family, the African family and the human family.
I wish you all fruitful discussions on issues relating to migration, refugees and asylum seekers, trafficking in persons, and smuggling of migrants.
It is now my distinct honour and privilege to declare the 2019 MIDSA Ministerial Conference officially open.

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