By Temidayo Ajibola
The need to restructure labour migration across the continents topped discussions at the opening session of the maiden Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) Intercontinental Migration Summit hosted by the Medgar Evers College (MEC), City University New York (CUNY) on Wednesday in Brooklyn.
The 3-day hybrid summit was themed: Appraising Human Mobility And Security: Prospects And the New Challenges Of Labour Migration Post Pandemic Era had arrays of speakers across the continents in attendance.
Welcoming the guests, Dr. Antionette Coleman, Senior Vice President and Provost of the MEC said the institution was proud to host the event.
She pledged that the university would take migration discussion beyond the classroom and encouraged contributions to deepen policies and implementations to improve migration governance.
Speaking, Dr Ajibola Abayomi, the President of the JIFORM with over 300 journalists covering migration across the continents said the summit was aimed at promoting academic inputs on migration matters, networking, robust policy on safe, orderly and regular migration among nations and individuals in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
He said the reappraisal of labour migration was imperative given the significant contributions of the migrants to the advancement of both low and high income economies which recorded over $714 billion in remittances in 2019 alone and other significant improvements in the subsequent years.
“Human mobility is the fulcrum of the global economy. The theme of this summit was carefully chosen to highlight the importance and the need for a review of migration policies in several regions of the world especially to the advantage of the migrants that are economic developers.
“Migration is a human right issue. The JIFORM since its inception in 2019 has shown tremendous commitment to fight migration menaces and challenges like human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, sexual slavery, irregular migration and promote regular migration with quality information to make labour migration safe and rewarding for all.”
Dr Ajibola said the summit would continue in America as an annual event and expressed the desire to keep the partnership with the MEC towards sustaining it.
Former Minister of Immigration and Citizenship who also served as ex-Secretary to the Government in Canada, Gerry Weiner delivered a keynote address on immigration policies and emigration, he urged nations to copy the friendly immigration policy of his country.
Gerry cautioned that migration should be properly managed by both developing and developed nations with adequate provisions to lower the unemployment ratios forcing migrants to desperately search for greener pastures abroad to avoid agitation for revolution.
Alpha Timbo, the minister for Labour and Social Security, Sierra Leone who spoke on Labour Migration And Ilo Convention: Challenges And Prospects For West Africa said: “Good governance is very significant in regulating labour migration and this involves ratification of International instruments, inter nation-state collaboration or agreements.
“The West African nations must evolve capacity building for migrant workers, training and preparation of migrants with soft and hard skills and a digitalized migration for tracking, monitoring and social protection with effective enforcement or implementation of the policies to achieve the desired objectives of safe, orderly and legal migration” the minister suggested.
In her submission on decent work strategy, Dr Princess Ocansey, a member of the African Union Labour Migration Advisory Committee bemoaned the unemployment ratio in Africa but stated that :“Well managed Migration can provide several solutions! From temporary circular migration opportunities, to strategically positioned remittances to fix emerging forex issues and more.”
“The African Development Bank stated that one third of Africa’s almost 420 million millennial aged 15 to 35 are unemployed and discouraged, another third are insecurely employed ,and only one in six are employed on a salary basis. This is a ticking time bomb! A security issue our governments must not overlook.
“We need a mindset change for our youth to become creative job creators- instead of sitting and waiting for nonexistent jobs, especially in the post covid era. We need a paradigm shift, shifting from working unilaterally to multilaterally all over the world – inorder to make it. No longer can we be in silos – this post pandemic era commands us to come together, to fight together, not fight each other – or we sink together” she averred.
Pastor Solomon. A. Folorunsho, the chairman of the Home for the Needy and his counterparts from Germany, called for support for the victims of forced migration.
He drew attention to the needs of his foundation in Benin City, Nigeria taking care of over 5000 internally displaced persons and other migrants to include food, drugs, funds and scholarships.
Addressing Economy: Diversity of migration and benefits to migrants and host country Dr Wale Idris Ajibade the Executive Director of African Views (AV), a nonprofit organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council advocated more tolerance for migrants from the host countries saying they had key role to aid development.
Continental leadership awards were given to President Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, Lazarus Chakwera, the President of Malawi, Alpha Timbo and Princes Ocansey.
The summit was moderated by Professor Byron Price, Raquel M. Bennett both from the MEC and Dr Ajibola Abayomi.