The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in partnership with the Government of Kenya,World Bank, GIZ, the Swiss, UNHCR, IOM, DRC, OSSREA, Maseno University among others has inaugurated an International Scientific Conference on Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration in the East and Horn of Africa. The three day conference is an effort aimed at addressing forced displacement and mixed migration issues in a more humane and sustainable manner for both displaced persons and host communities.
To further push the agenda, the government of Kenya through the State Department of Immigration- Ministry of Interior has revealed during the conference that government’s specialized institution on migration – Kenya Institute of Migration Studies (KIMS) – is finally operational having admitted its first students drawn across the IGAD member states region.
Speaking at the opening of the Scientific Conference on Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration, Immigration PS Gordon Kihalangwa in a speech said the institution, a regularly updated National Migration Profile and a robust national migration policy that is ready for adoption are some of the interventions that the government has in place to combat forced displacement and migration challenges.
Housed by the University of Nairobi, KIMS is the first institution of its kind in the region and is collaboration between the State Department for Migration & Citizen Services, Maastricht Graduate School of Governance in Netherlands, International Organization of Migration (IOM) and GIZ.
In line with the Djibouti Declaration and the IGAD Regional Policy Framework on Education, including higher education, science, technology and innovation, the conference is aimed at enabling a scholarly and policy interrogation of the relationship between forced displacement and other forms of migration. It will also be an opportunity to assess and analyse new knowledge and developments in migration management in the Horn of Africa in particular and the African continent as a whole.
Universities in the IGAD region have carried out targeted research and published widely on the dynamics of migration and displacement in the region. However, there are limited fora where these findings are shared and discussed with other stakeholders including policy makers and practitioners. The conference therefore is a platform to interact and share knowledge and perspectives on migration and displacement from diverse perspectives.
Addressing Delegates at the conference, Representative of the Chair of IGAD Gebreyohanes Teklu noted that according to the 2017 ILO report on Labour Migration Statistics for Africa, IGAD had a migrant population of over 2.8 million. Additionally, by December 2018, the IGAD region had over 12 million displaced populations comprising of approximately 9.2 million IDPs and 3.7 million refugees (UN OCHA).
‘Migration in and from the IGAD region is fuelled by various political, socio-economic and environmental factors. As such, it is practically unthinkable to avoid migration. However, it is possible to manage and regulate this phenomenon. The benefits of well-managed migration and mobility within and between countries and continents can be many. Among others, it can positively contribute to economic development in both sending and receiving countries and regions within countries,’
He added that migration and forced displacement require sound legal frameworks and policies for the protection and empowerment of vulnerable populations and for enhancing the developmental impacts of those who are affected. As reflected in the concept note, the region experiences some of the most brutal conflicts and political instability, fatal poverty and extreme climate invariability, leading to different forms of mobility.
Speaking at the conference, Mr. Serser Chelulei who read a speech on behalf of Principal Secretary Department of Immigration and Citizen Services Dr. Gordon Kihalangwa noted that Kenya had put in place appropriate multi-stakeholders approach whose preoccupation is to secure a predictable and responsible national and international response to migration and refugees in order to implement the objectives of the transformative Agenda 2030.
‘Reflecting on the objectives of this conference, we want to facilitate learning on Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration, generate interest in policy-oriented research, establish network for actors with expertise in the conference theme and to establish knowledge base for future research. Further, Kenya is fronting efforts to reduce statelessness in the East and horn of Africa by among other means domesticating the international legal instruments on the fight against trafficking in persons and adoption of coordinated one stop border management practices to tame cross border criminal activity and to facilitate seamless movement of persons, commodity and services,’
Currently, there are several initiatives on durable solutions that have been applied in different contexts across the region. These initiatives have resulted in various best practices and lessons learnt, which can be replicated in other settings.