Uganda assumes leadership of Regional Forum, as Ministers Commit to Boosting Safe Youth Labour Migration Pathways 

Ugandan State Minister Sarah Mateke Nyirabatshitsi addresses the Ministerial Forum in Addis Ababa, 29 February 2024   Photo @IOM

Addis Ababa – Government Ministers from 11 East and Horn of Africa (EHoA) nations have pledged to strengthen collaboration on safe, regular, and humane labour migration pathways for young people. The pledges were made at the 5th Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The key objective of the RMFM is to collaborate to strengthen labour migration governance in the East and Horn of Africa region by establishing a platform for experience sharing, consultation on issues, dialogue, and the review and implementation of recommendations.

This year’s forum focused on youth employment, skills development, and green economies, featured discussions on leveraging youth potential for climate action and achieving sustainable development.

A panel of youth environmental advocates from the region led robust discussions on the nexus between human mobility and climate change, concluding that leveraging the potential of youth as agents of change and contributors to climate action, can drive inclusive, green, and sustainable economic development in the region.

Participating ministers endorsed a joint statement, underscoring the importance of reinforcing bilateral labour agreements, ensuring ethical recruitment practices, safeguarding migrant worker rights, promoting skills development, and fostering job creation to advance regular pathways for young migrants. Ministers also affirmed their dedication to aligning environmental initiatives with skills development agendas.

Recognizing the transition to green economies as key to resilient and sustainable growth, the forum also unanimously endorsed Uganda as the new RMFM Chair for the next two years, after it has been successfully led by Ethiopia for the last two. In her acceptance remarks, the new Chair, Sarah Mateke Nyirabashitsi, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda acknowledged the country’s commitment to working with other states in the region.  
“I officially accept that Uganda will be the chair of the two-year Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration. I therefore welcome you in advance to the 6th Ministerial Meeting in Uganda next year on a date yet to be set by the Secretariat,” Minister Mateke Nyirabashitsi said.

The new Chair urged member states, like-minded institutions, organizations, and individuals to consider the self-financing initiative a priority and to work towards the realization of its common objective which is ensuring the continuity of the RMFM beyond current funding.

“It all starts today. My national secretariat, some of whose members have been part of the technical meetings, is already composed and is geared to start preparations for the way ahead.”
The outgoing Chair, Ethiopia, represented by Muferihat Kamil Ahmed, the Minister for Labour & Skills, expressed her gratitude to the member states for entrusting the country with the leadership for the past two years.

“It has been a privilege to guide this promising regional platform, which we would not hesitate to chair even for one more year, if need be! Together, we have witnessed the RMFM blossom into a vital space for consultation and collaboration in the realm of labour migration.”

Rana Jaber, IOM East & Horn of Africa, Regional Director, reiterated the collective responsibility to work together to develop comprehensive and inclusive migration policies that prioritize human rights, social cohesion, and economic development.

“By fostering dialogue, cooperation, and partnership among our member states, we can address the complexities of migration and labour migration effectively and create a more inclusive and equitable future for all,” she said. 

The RMFM fosters cooperation and progress towards achieving regional and global migration initiatives, including the Africa 2063 Agenda, the AU Free Movement Protocol, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Global Compact for Migration. It promotes regional common approaches and social dialogue in the formulation and implementation of evidence-based, human rights and gender-sensitive harmonized labour migration policies.

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 13 - Climate Action