President Museveni has called upon African governments to design evidence based migration policies that seek to maximize positive impacts especially in the areas of investment, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, education and trade.

The President said migration is a global tropical issue which countries have to accept and deal with humanely especially by not closing their boarders to the migrants, sighting that migration can either bring about positive impacts and development of the countries or negative ones depending on how its managed.

PM Rugunda (C)in a group photo with some of the participants of the 3rd Pan African Forum on Migration. On PM’s (L) is Laura Thompson, the Deputy General of IOM.(Photo by PMPU)

The President made these remarks in a speech that was delivered on his behalf by the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda during the 3rd Pan African forum on migration organized under the theme “Towards an African Common Position on the Global Compact on Migration” at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

“The number of migrants worldwide has continued to grow over the past ten years mainly due to wars, human rights violations, environmental and climatic changes, economic hardships, among others. Today, over I billion people in the world are migrants, representing one in seven people globally,” Museveni said.

Museveni noted that although most of the migrants are of working age and thus represent an expansion of labour, they can still pose challenges for support services and national security especially in cases of forced migration.

PM Rugunda shakes hands with Nanette Thomas, The Minister of Political and Public Affairs of the Republic of Sierra Leone during the 3rd Pan African Forum on Migration at Speke Resort Munyonyo (Photo by PMPU)

Regarding forced migration, the President said Uganda is currently hosting over 1.2 million refugees from the region and beyond, making it the largest refugee hosting country in Africa and third largest in the World.

“Forced migration has an impact on the socio-economic, security, environmental aspects among others, and therefore calls for concerted effort to address its causes and effects,” Mr. Museveni said.

Mr. Museveni also called for creation of a conducive environment for Africans to prosper and live good and peaceful lives by investing in social, physical and economic infrastructure envisaged by the African Union.

The President said the continent is well endowed with resources and therefore its people shouldn’t undertake dangerous journeys across seas and oceans in search for hope and better opportunities elsewhere.

He urged the participants to study and share information on the current migration dynamics, trends and patterns in order to keep abreast with emerging issues, as well as collect reliable data on migration at all levels for purposes of finding solutions to the migration challenges in Africa.

He asked that a holistic approach to migration in terms of development, employment, human rights, peace and security, climate change and humanitarian dimensions be discussed during the forum.

The Deputy Director General of International Organization for Migration, Laura Thompson said migration is a critical issue on the political, social, economic and humanitarian agenda of both domestic and international communities and should therefore be addressed in a more holistic manner by member states through exchanging views and developing a common approach of migration issues.

She called for Intra- African mobility rather than mobility outside the continent arguing that it enhances economic development of Africa.

She pledged that the International Organization for Migration will continue to support Africa to deal with migration challenges.

The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Obiga Kania pledged Uganda’s commitment to do whatever it takes to perfect its migration policy, urging migrants in Uganda to take advantage of the current opportunities in the country to prosper and develop themselves.

The Minister of Political and Public Affairs of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Nanette Thomas, noted that there is an increase in the number of migrants with over 50 million Africans living outside their continent, with 48% of them being women.

She called for an encouragement of migrant movement within the continent rather than outside the continent for economic development.

“We need to create an enabling environment for migrants to be integrated and make a significant contribution by paying attention to migrant workers’ protection, safety and development,” Nanette said.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Rosa Malango called for a comprehensive and dignified approach to migration issues, emphasizing partnerships at the regional, continental and global levels.

She said there is also need to domesticate and integrate SDGs fully in order to comprehend and support migrants with focus on fighting poverty, hunger and disease in an environment where no one is left behind for a peaceful and sustainable Africa.

Malango said migration is key in the SDG of decent work and economic growth by targeting elimination of forced labour, human trafficking and focusing on their economic development, and protection of the rights and dignity of all migrants regardless of their origin and status.

She thanked Uganda for its commitment to work and support refugees and migrants, noting that “Uganda has had a long history of opening its doors to migrants and refugees”.

Africa hosts the third highest number of migrants after Europe and America, with women and children accounting for slightly less than half of the Migrant population. ENDS.   By DOREEN NASASIRA