Speaking at the launch of the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa, this week in the Monrovia, Liberia, Abdalla Hamdok, the deputy Executive Director of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said Africa is still missing out on the many benefits of migration because of tight border policies. He deplored the fact that Africans need visas to travel to 55 per cent of other African countries, according to a press release from the ECA.
“Travel in Africa by Africans is curtailed by stringent visa requirements. Excessive border controls and immigration restrictions increase the costs and risks of migration and often conflict individual motivation to migrate and state restrictions on mobility,” he was quoted as saying.
Commenting on how the issue of migration is portrayed in the international media, Mr. Hamdok said although international media outlets tend to present images of large numbers of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe as being mostly from Africa, intra-Africa migration still dominates migration flows on the continent.
“Data shows that less than three per cent of Africa’s population have migrated internationally and less than 12 per cent of the total migrant stock in Europe are from Africa,” he said.
The Panel, was established in April 2016 by the ECA under the direction of the joint African Union(AU) and ECA Conference of Ministers in Addis Ababa. It is made up of 14 members with Liberian President Helen Johnson Sirleaf as chair. The panel aims to push migration issues to the top of policy agenda by engaging major stakeholders and partners, the release added.
Knut Vollebaek, a former minister of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, who is a member of the Panel, said the government of Norway “is very pleased” with the initiative and expressed hopes about the panel’s ability to achieve its goals.
The release notes that over the next few months, the Panel will consult with relevant constituencies at national, regional and global levels to come up with recommendations on how to build and sustain broad political consensus on an implementable international migration development agenda, taking into account the particular challenges of countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. The report will be submitted to the African Union Heads of State summit in July 2018.
It is estimated that 171,000 migrants arrived in Italy from North Africa in 2015, the highest number ever recorded, which exceeds the 2014 record of 170,100, according to reports citing Italian authorities.
In 2016, the year seen as the deadliest for those trying to reach Europe by sea, the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants Project recorded 5,085 migrants and refugee deaths in the Mediterranean, compared to 3,777 in 2015 and 3,279 in 2014.
According to the IOM, 27,850 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through March 29, over 80 per cent arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece. This compares with 165,697 through the first 89 days of 2016. 655 migrants died.
The organization puts the total for this year at 3,682 migrants rescued and 171 bodies retrieved.
Last week there were news reports of 44 young men, women and children dying of thirst in the Sahara Desert, while trying to reach Europe. Most of them were said to be from Ghana and Nigeria.
The IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP), has recorded 2,300 migrant deaths worldwide from January to 31 May this year, with the Mediterranean region accounting for the largest proportion of deaths.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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