Feature

IOM supports S. Sudan in developing its first migration policy

By Moses Gum

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting South Sudan in developing its migration policy so as to provide capacity building to improve migration management.

This is the first ever migration policy expected to address irregular migration including smuggling and human trafficking.

Last week, a three-day consultation forum concluded with key Government stakeholders setting priorities to address comprehensive migration policy in the country.

The workshop was funded by Better Migration Management Programme (BMM) and the Government of Japan. BMM is a regional, multi-year, multi-partner programme co-funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

BMM aims to provide capacity building to improve migration management, particularly to prevent and address irregular migration, including smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.

In a press release obtained by Juba Monitor, it said since South Sudan hosts thousands of migrants, there is need to improve migration policy.

According to 2017 International Migration Report, an estimated number of more than 845,000 are residing in South Sudan, the majority of whom are from the East and Horn of Africa and are often travelling irregularly.

Not only is a country of destination for many migrants, South Sudan is a major transit country on the route to Northern Africa, the statement said.

“We saw the need for South Sudan to come up with a migration policy when we realized that there were some legal loopholes,” said Riaw Gatlier Gai, South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Interior, who officially opened the meeting.

“We need to close these gaps,” said Gai.

Migrants enter the country for a variety of reasons, a phenomenon described as mixed migration. Groups in the country include refugees, migrant workers and their families, unaccompanied migrant children and victims of trafficking. Those travelling to or through the country often enlist the services of smugglers to facilitate their journey.

South Sudan’s Deputy Inspector General of Police James Pui Yak said migration in itself is not a bad thing but has got significant benefits.

“Migration itself is not a bad thing”. “We South Sudanese have been to so many countries as migrants and refugees; that experience has shown us the benefits of migration,” Yak said.

Migrants’ vulnerability to abuse is heightened in humanitarian settings, particularly for irregular migrants. The impact of a crisis can be worse for them, as they cannot easily access information or aid. This is not only the case in South Sudan but also in countries like Somalia, Yemen and Libya.

Discussions during the consultation were centered on establishing correct facts and figures around migration in South Sudan, mixed migration, labour migration, and migration and development.

“Regular and irregular migrants contribute to the country’s economy, particularly through payments for business licenses and creating employment opportunities,” remarked Tya Maskun, IOM South Sudan Head of Operations.

She added: “This consultation marks the beginning of South Sudan’s journey towards establishing a legal framework, which should aim to protect and address migrants’ needs while harnessing the benefits they bring to the country.”

Maskun also added that due to its status as a member of the East African Community, South Sudan is a party to the free movement protocol, an agreement that should be at the core of migration policy. The protocol defines free movement as the right to enter and exit member states and move freely within them, subject to the states’ laws and procedures, with the aim of increasing Africa’s economic integration.

IOM began its migration management support to South Sudanese nationals in 2010 by facilitating their return and reintegration, for those who wished to participate in the historic referendum for independence from Sudan. The outcome of this week’s consultation will lead to another landmark step forward for the country.

 

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