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27-08-2018, Bishoftu (Ethiopia): The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Dr Hirut Woldemariam, this morning opened the National Consultation Workshop towards the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance held in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The opening session was attended by the Director of IGAD Health and Social Development Division, Ms Fathia Alwan, the Director General for Neighbouring Countries and IGAD Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Mohamoud Mohamed Dirir, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)-Ethiopia Chief of Mission, Ms Maureen Achieng, and the Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)-Ethiopia, Mr George Okutho.

This four-day workshop is aimed at getting inputs from national stakeholders and Experts on benefits and barriers to free movement of persons and transhumance; deriving National Recommendations towards the Provisions of the Protocol and Developing a Road Map for the Negotiation and adoption of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD Region.

This National Consultative Workshop, which is the last before the start of the regional level negotiations, is bringing in experts on migration and related themes as well as all national stakeholders from each of the Ministries and Authorities of Government, Civil Society Organizations, Academia, Private Sector and Media to contribute to effective migration governance.

H.E. Dr Hirut Woldemariam noted that Ethiopia was an origin, transit and host country in the area of migration and movement of persons. She invited national participants and IGAD Experts to come to a “shared understanding on the subject matter” towards “a more concrete cooperation” between IGAD Member States. “There should be a mechanism by which the IGAD region can best manage such complex migration flows”, she said. The Minister also highlighted that it was “necessary to assure the free movement of persons as the integral part of the IGAD Migration Policy Framework and as a major objective under the Regional Economic Integration in the IGAD Region”.

Ms Fathia Alwan recalled that the IGAD Secretariat mandate was “to facilitate its Member States to develop a common understanding of benefits and barriers of this Regime of Free Movement of Persons in the Region”. She added that, from global experience, Free Movement of Persons Regime had a “high potential to provide livelihood options” to citizens.

The Representatives from the IOM and the ILO also took the floor to express support to the initiative.

IGAD has received a grant from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund with the intention of facilitating the establishment of a free movement regime within the IGAD region. This is aimed at promoting the regularization of the high volume of informal movement that currently takes place, and increase the opportunities for legal mobility.

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