IOM chief urges facilitative rather than restrictive border management

April 25, 2018


The IOM Uganda Chief of Mission, Mr Ali Abdi, on Monday urged IGAD member states transition from restrictive to facilitative border management strategies, promote free movement of persons, and unlock the region’s intra-regional trade potential.

Mr Abdi spoke in the Ugandan capital Kampala, during the opening of the South Sudanese Government “High level experts meeting towards the protocols on free movement of persons and transhumance in the IGAD region”. The meeting was organized by the secretariat of IGAD, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, working in technical cooperation with IOM and funding from the European Union.

Abdi represented Ms Maureen Achieng, the Ethiopia-based IOM Representative to the African Union, IGAD and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

He told about 70 participants that although 70 per cent of migration from African countries takes place within the continent, this potential was not being harnessed to spur development. Consequently, intra-continental trade in Africa remained the lowest in the world (only 18 per cent of total trade volumes, compared to 69 per cent for intra-European trade, and 52 per cent for Asia). Likewise, the continent’s contribution to global trade was only 2.4 per cent in 2105.

“Indeed migration has brought numerous macro-level benefits to continents that were quick to realize its benefits and moved to facilitate the free movement of both people and goods. However, I must say, Africa has not been as quick,” Abdi said.

He thanked IGAD for leading the process, and also urged countries to adopt a whole-of-government approach to migration governance.

The meeting was also addressed by Dr Mehari Tadelle Maru, an IGAD expert, who lamented that although IGAD has some of the best intra-regional infrastructure, it has the worst indicators on free movement of persons.

Other key speeches came from IGAD Executive Secretary Mahboub M. Maalim (represented), Ugandan internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo, and South Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro.  

Dr Lumuro urged the experts to tackle various sticking issues, including nomadic pastoralism and belligerent asylum seekers. He said many South Sudanese live in capitals of neighbouring countries, where they own property inappropriately acquired from South Sudan, and reportedly use their wealth to finance instability back home.

“These cannot be treated as ordinary asylum seekers,” Lomuro said.

He added that many South Sudanese remained pessimistic about integration with regional blocs, because of their experience of being marginalized as part of Sudan.
The three-day meeting closes on Thursday.