I am very happy to be here with you today to open the regional meeting, on “Assessment of Seasonal Labour Migration Management System in El Gedaref State”. The meeting is organised in the context of the EU funded
Better Migration Management programme.
The Better Migration Management (BMM) programme is one of many EU funded projects in the greater Horn of Africa for addressing the challenges faced by migrants. All the programmes aim at tackling the root causes of migration in full respect of human rights. Implementation of this programme is guided by a set of core standards, which include special attention to the protection of human rights particularly of female migrants and victims of trafficking and smuggling
as well as children.
Secondly, the programme aims also to ensure that migrants and in particular victims of trafficking and smuggling receive due process and their rights are respected in harmonised migration policies and their implementation, in line with protection norms enshrined in the Sudanese Asylum Act and the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Lastly, all BMM activities follow a strict conflict sensitive and do-no-harm approach in order to maximise its contribution to strengthening social cohesion and peace. It is very clear that BMM will not carry out any activities or provide any equipment that would contribute to a conflict. BMM work is guided by respect, accountability, fairness and transparency as means to support peace.
The EU recognises that "south-south" migration is a key on going phenomenon. Indeed, according to official statistics, this migration flow constitutes the largest part of current international migration flows. Also for this reason, sustaining the efforts of the Khartoum Process countries in designing accurate labour migration policies is one of the main objectives of the BMM. In this regard, questions of the following nature arise:
Relevant government authorities and other stakeholders (farming companies, workers, civil society organisations, community leaders) in Sudan and Ethiopia are trying to formulate the answers to these questions. The answers can only be found within a process of dialogue, discussion and consultations with all relevant partners. No institution can define nor implement the solutions on its own – hence the need for broad preparation and ownership of the response plan. In this respect, the EU is also supporting a regional programme with IGAD and ILO on free movement of workers. This EUR 5 million initiative has already completed comprehensive consultations with the governments in Horn of Africa
in order to come up with a draft of the Free Movement Protocol.
In Sudan, as in the EU, adopting a labour migration policy is a key prerequisite to facilitate the adequate matching of supply and demand in the labour market and by so doing to sustain the development of the national economy. Labour
migration policy and labour market policy are deeply interrelated, and cannot be defined independently from one another. The labour migration policy objective needs to be reconciled with the main objective of labour market policies, which is to make the best use of human capital available in the country, including human capital arriving from third countries.
In Sudan, a main goal for the project is the adoption and implementation of improved management mechanisms for the seasonal migration of Ethiopian Workers in El Gedaref. We are expanding current Sudanese and Ethiopian efforts by establishing a Migrant Resource Centre in El Gedaref. This centre will improve and enhance assistance available to Ethiopian seasonal workers. We will also support an awareness-raising campaign among seasonal workers and local communities.
The success of the project depends largely on the willingness and capacity of the two neighbouring states of Amhara and El Gedaref, as well as the Governments of Sudan and Ethiopia to work together towards establishing well-adapted cross border labour migration relations. The EU is ready to provide further support to such processes, and therefore foster socio economic development in border areas through the reinforcement of existing cross border cooperation mechanisms between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Indeed, the EU is supporting a number of cross-border and regional projects already. Some of the main elements of these are; labour migration in Ethiopia, promoting employment in the public sector, provision of skills, technical and
vocational training, entrepreneurship training, trainings to access finance, facilitation of wage employment, provision of psychosocial support, establishment of a migrant database system, and preparation and implementation of free movement protocols. Interestingly, the project to establish a migrant database system will prepare three manuals on bilateral labour migration, pre-departure, and labour attachés. These should be of great use and benefit to the many stakeholders involved.
Clearly a lot of work remains to be done. The clearer and better defined policies and frameworks are, the easier it will be to implement individual projects and programmes in support of these. As a famous person once said; "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". We have already taken many steps together and are therefore well on the way to addressing these issues, which will ultimately benefit all people living in the Horn of Africa region. We must retain our joint focus and commitment.
I hope this event will foster the exchange between all the parties on movement of seasonal workers and I wish you all very fruitful deliberations.