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A follow up meeting towards the development of an IGAD protocol on free movement of persons opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today, 17th July 2012. The meeting bringing together representatives of IGAD member states immigration and labour agencies as well a IGAD partners aims at discussing provisions in the proposed protocol with an aim to kick starting the negotiation process.
An IGAD protocol on free movement of persons is anchored on Article 13 A  (iv) of the Agreement establishing IGAD that mandates the IGAD to facilitate the free movement of persons and right of establishment and residence of their respective nationals in the IGAD region. This also comes in the wake of the adoption by the IGAD Summit of Heads of States and Government in February 2012 of the IGAD Minimum Integration Plan (MIP) that aims at fast tracking the regional integration process.  With the current efforts to strengthen inter-regional connectivity through the Horn of Africa Infrastructure project part of the MIP. The IGAD protocol on free movement of persons will certainly accelerate the integration process.

At the continental level, member states of the African Union have committed themselves to undertake measures needed for the gradual attainment of Free movement of Persons, Rights of Residence and Establishment under Chapter Six Art. 43 of the Abuja Treaty of the AU Framework of Cooperation. Other RECs including ECOWAS, EAC, COMESA, SADC have already concluded similar protocols.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Program Manager of Health and Social Development at the IGAD Secretariat Ms. Fathia Alwan on behalf of the IGAD Executive Secretary reiterated the need for a regional mechanism that will facilitate trade, cultural exchange, tourism and cooperation for IGAD states and called upon member states commitment towards the gradual removal of barriers to free movement.

Consultations to bring on board all relevant bodies and stakeholders in the member states will continue.

For further information, please contact Ms. Fathia Alwan, Program Manager Health and Social Development- IGAD Secretariat.

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