Ethiopia to take over East & Horn of Africa’s regional ministerial forum on harmonizing labour migration in the region

H.E. Muferihat Kamil and Hon. Chelugui sign way forward on the 2nd RMFM. Photo: © Haimanot Abebe, IOM 2022.

Delegates from Ethiopia and Kenya hold discussions on the RMFM. Photo: © Haimanot Abebe, IOM 2022.

H.E. Muferihat Kamil and Hon. Chelugui sign way forward on the 2nd RMFM. Photo: © Haimanot Abebe, IOM 2022.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Ethiopia is taking over the Chairpersonship of the Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM) on Harmonizing Labour Migration Policies in East and Horn of Africa (RMFM), from its neighbour Kenya. 

Set up in 2020, the RMFM aims to harmonize labour related migration policies and laws across a region, which is home to an estimated 331 million Africans. More than eight million are migrants and migrant workers who travel within the region and abroad. East & Horn of Africa, which includes the nations of Republic of Burundi, the Republic of Djibouti, the State of Eritrea, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Republic of South Sudan, the Republic of the Sudan, the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania is also home to an estimated ten million refugees, IDPs and asylum seekers impacted by some of the rules governing labour migration.

Under Kenya’s leadership of the forum which began in 2020 and ends in 2022, governments in the region agreed to a ‘Call to Action Priorities, Operating Modalities’, as well as a Road Map for the RMFM, committing to regional common approaches and social dialogue in the formulation and implementation of evidence-based, human rights and gender-sensitive harmonized labour migration policies. During this period an inter-state information-sharing and policy dialogue forum was set up for the 11 countries in the region to promote the protection of human, labour, social and economic rights of migrant workers, and members of their families. 

The Chairpersonship of the Forum is now being handed to Ethiopia as part of the agreed yearly rotational tenure of the member states.

Speaking at a preparatory meeting for the upcoming handover taking place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Monday, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection Honourable Simon Chelugui said,

“If we (East & Horn of Africa) do not approach the world market as a block we will be exploited and taken advantage of by destination markets. We have witnessed an increase in the number of migrant workers, especially the youth, who are seeking employment opportunities in international markets where their skills are in demand. This, therefore, calls for all of us to effectively manage labour migration and ensure protection of all migrant workers from our region. I look forward to this regional forum engaging on common bilateral agreements that articulate and champion not only the rights of Kenyans and Ethiopians, but also the rest of the region’s workers.” 

Ethiopia lies at the centre of migration issues and affairs in the region.  A country of over 115 million people, it is a country of origin, destination, and transit for migrants, IDPs and refugees. Ethiopia’s Diaspora Agency estimates that more than 3 million Ethiopians live, study, and work abroad. 

On preparations to take over the chairpersonship, Ethiopia’s Minister of Labor and Skills, Her Excellency Muferiat Kemil during the meeting said,

“As the new Chair of the RMFM, Ethiopia will not only assume the leadership role but also take the lead in facilitating fora on migration, targeting issues regarding bilateral labour migration agreements, ethical recruitment, social welfare of migrant workers, cross-border trade, and human development - with particular emphasis on youth and women empowerment and labor migration data and statistics. Through this forum, participating States will strengthen inter and intra-regional cooperation, on labour migration governance, regional integration, and social cohesion, as well as utilize common approaches to devise and implement harmonized labour migration policies.” 

IOM, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa, will serve and support the transition of the Chairpersonship as the RMFM Regional Secretariat during Ethiopia’s tenure, and work closely with IOM Ethiopia and other IOM country offices in EHOA in providing policy and technical advice, as well as logistical support and facilitating meetings and events. 

"IOM is thrilled to witness the smooth transition of the leadership of Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration to the Government of Ethiopia. We thank the incumbent, the Government of Kenya, for its valuable leadership over the past two years where notable strides were made towards the improvement of regional migration management," said Mohammed Abdiker, the IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa”.

The official handover ceremony of the RMFM chairpersonship will take place in Nairobi, Kenya in April.

Activities under the RMFM are guided by regional and global frameworks on migration including the Global Compact for Migration, Migration Policy Framework for Africa, and Africa 2063 Agenda as well as the Global Policy Network.  

For more information, please contact Haimanot Abebe at IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251 47 551 0899 (Ext. 1260), Email: 

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