Ministers from East & Horn of Africa Meet To Discuss The Challenges And Opportunities of Labour Migration

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Government Ministers from across East and Horn of Africa, with the support of IOM, the International Organization for Migration, are meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to discuss how labour migration governance and how to maximize the benefits of greater regional integration on human mobility in the region. East and Horn of Africa is home to 8.5 million international migrants, including 4.7 million labour migrant workers, according to data from The State of Migration in East and Horn of Africa report 2022.

During what will be the fifth, Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM), and under the theme of “Harnessing the Power of Regular Migration Pathways for Youth Employment, Skills Development, and Green Economy, Ministers, and technical delegates from 11 countries in the region including Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Uganda will discuss; greater strategies for safe, regular, and humane labour migration pathways for young people in the region.  Out of an estimated 170 million people in East & Horn of Africa, nearly 60 million are young people between the ages 15-24 years old.  Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest percentage of young people of any continent, with an estimated 70% of the population under age 30, according to the UN's World Youth Report 2023.

IOM is providing the RMFM technical expertise to help foster greater dialogue and cooperation on complex migration issues, across neighboring states in the region, and will share data and best practices to inform policies, support capacity building within government, resource mobilization, advocacy, and outreach, to respond to migration challenges, and also harness the opportunities of well managed labour migration governance for this part of the African continent.

This year’s RMFM objectives and theme strongly align with IOM’s Strategic Plan 2024 – 2028 which seeks to support facilitating pathways for regular migration. Ministers will discuss investing in skills development, promoting knowledge transfer, and identifying regional skills-needs in green sectors such as renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, particularly for the youth.

Ethiopia currently chairs the RMFM, which rotates between states in the region voluntarily every two years.

"As we gather for the 5th Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration, our focus is clear: unlocking the potential of young people through responsible, sustainable migration pathways. By forging a correlation between regular migration, skills development, and a thriving green economy, we can empower our youth to become active contributors to a shared and prosperous future and build a region where every young person can flourish, regardless of borders”. H.E. Mr. Daniel Teressa, State Minister for Labour and Skills Development, Ethiopia and current RMFM Chair.

While tens of thousands of migrant workers, many of them youth, seek opportunities in Europe and the Gulf, a growing trend in the region indicates that intra-regional migration (migration within countries or within the region) remains dominant. Ministers will also discuss ways to maximize the benefits of this trend among young migrant workers in both sending and receiving countries. The forum will also address challenges like climate displacement which has affected migration patterns in the region. IOM’s new global strategic plan emphasizes reducing the risks and impacts of climate change, which evidence shows is now a top driver of human mobility. 

Before the forum’s conclusion Ministers will strengthen commitments outlined in the 2020 Communique agreed in Nairobi, which outlined several key points regarding the future directions for regional migration governance, including the importance of common and coordinated approaches to regulation, harmonizing policies, streamlining processes, and fostering collaboration between countries in the region.

“The 5th Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration is of important significance because it presents us with the opportunity to acknowledge and address specific needs of young people within the broader context of labour migration governance. Ultimately, the 5th RMFM's success will be measured by its ability to deliver tangible progress towards improved regional migration governance particularly for youth seeking employment and skills development opportunities within the green economy.” Rana Jaber, Regional Director, IOM East, and Horn of Africa. IOM’s Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa is organizing and co-ordinating the RMFM with funding from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), under the Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) programme.  

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