Issues of migration as they contribute to socio-economic and political development of both countries of origin and destination were discussed at lengthy during the just ended Second Meeting of the IGAD Regional Consultative Process on Migration held in Addis Ababa on 7th and 8th February 2012.
The two-day meeting attended by representatives from IGAD Member States, the UN, the African Union Commission, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other development partners was used to echange national and regional experiences and best practices on how to harness the development potential of migration. The delegates also discussed the possibility of a regional action plan for Diaspora engagement in development as well as enhance exchange of information and cooperation. Furthermore, the forum facilitated the exchange of information between stakeholders in HIV/AIDS intervention and better management of cross border movement.
At the end of the meeting that adopted a mix of presentations and plenary discussions, several recommendations were formulated and passed. These included the development of national policies and legislation based on the AU and IGAD Migration Policy Frameworks, undertaking research and data collection to inform policy development as well as continuous sharing knowledge and experience. The delegates also called for increased engagement with the Diaspora and improved mechanisms for remittances.
Recognizing the adoption of the IGAD Minimum Integration Plan by the Summit of Heads of State and Government, Member States were encouraged to develop strategies that would cascade the provisions of the plan to lower levels of government and citizens for its eventual rolling out as envisaged in the broader African Integration Program with specific reference to migration and development.
South Sudan Hoists Flag at IGAD Secretariat
On a bright Friday morning of 10th February 2012, the flag of the Republic of South Sudan was hoisted at the Secretariat of IGAD in Djibouti formally accepting the new member state into the regional body. The brief historic ceremony was characterized with pomp and colour that included sentimental music by a brass band, traditional dance by a folklore troupe and speeches by distinguished dignitaries.
The auspicious occasion was attended by Ministers and high level representatives of IGAD Member States as well as staff of the Secretariat. It was also graced by the presence of officials from Seychelles and South Africa attending a two-day meeting to prepare a regional position paper for the upcoming London Conference on Somalia.
Welcoming the gathering, the IGAD Executive Secretary, Eng. Mahboub Maalim expressed his joy to have witness the formal hoisting of the flag recalling the tedious yet victorious journey that has lead to the occasion. He praised the IGAD Summit of the Heads of State and Government for approving the membership of the new member state terming it as yet another demonstration of the commitment of the regional organization to promote peace, security and economic integration.
"I am overjoyed that this is happening during the first term of my tenure as the chief executive of your regional organization and I promise the new member state of our continued support."
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan, Hon. Nhial deng Nhial spoke on behalf of his people, his President and his own thanking the leadership and the people of IGAD for their unwavering support. He acknowledged the historic and monumental role played by IGAD in the search of peace in the Sudan describing it as a shining example of how regional organizations should address problems in their midst.
Hon. Deng pledged that his country as the newest member of IGAD shall be responsible and committed to the maintenance of peace and mutual prosperity of the region.
"As a responsible member of IGAD, we shall not only strive to promote the objectives for which our organization was founded and not least of which is to foster development and regional integration, but shall also seek to deploy all our capabilities to promote peaceful co-existence and political harmony among all Member States".
On his part, the Djiboutian Minister for Foreign Affairs welcomed the Republic of South Sudan as the 8th member of IGAD, the 54th in the African Union and the 194th of the UN. He stated that this was indeed a historic day in the region and demonstration of a great deal of maturity of the country after decades of struggle for independence.
"You have taken your deserved place in the concert of nations and we sincerely hope that the relationship between you and your northern neighbour will keep improving and resolution of any pending issues will be tackled in a peaceful and brotherly manner," pointed out Hon. Mohamed Ali Youssouf. He further stated that the Republic of Djibouti is willing to have the best relationship with the Republic of South Sudan.
"As a landlocked country, you can rely on our port facilities and other infrastructure for your imports and exports."
After the hoisting of the flag accompanied by the playing of the South Sudan Oyee - national anthem, there was a rousing applause from the gathering and the eight flags of the IGAD Member States flew proudly in front of their Secretariat.