Technical experts to the High-Level Panel on Migration in Africa (HLPM) concluded a two-day meeting at the headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, with a strong call for a new narrative on African migration based on the notion that migration is normal and inevitable.
Noting that charity begins at home, the experts called on African leaders to reverse the growing global trend towards “securitization of migration,” by acting on commitments to ease travel restrictions and promote regular migration across the African continent.
“The status quo is unacceptable,” emphasized Sibry Tapsoba, Director of the Transition Support Department at African Development Bank in opening remarks, describing the situation in Côte d’Ivoire where migrants make up around 12% of the population and where large numbers of children and adult migrants, including a number of high-profile residents, have no identity papers. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of Social Development Policy Division at the Economic Commission for Africa, intimated that “The time is now for us to reflect on where we stand and where we need to go in response to migration challenges on the continent.”
The meeting considered key messages from three specially commissioned reports on migration in Africa that addressed, respectively: costs and benefits of migration; demographics and trends; and the changing landscape of migration governance on the continent and globally. A synthesis of the three reports will feed into the final, policy-oriented, HLPM report due to be finalized at the next meeting of the Panel. The meeting is scheduled to take place from 16-17 October 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The numbers do not lie
Highlighting “myths, perceptions and realities” of African migration, Daniel Makina, University of South Africa, noted that Africa accounts for the lowest share of global migration, while making a significant contribution to the GDP of destination countries. He cited projections that at current rates, intra-African migration alone could propel Africa’s per capita GDP from US$2,0008 in 2016 to US$3,249 by 2030. He noted, however, that to harness the “demographic dividend” of its large youth population, Africa requires to make concerted efforts to sustain economic growth and create jobs.
Describing immigration into Africa as a key blind spot in the current discussions, Linguère Mbaye, AfDB, cited data from UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa Report 2018, which estimates that around 22% of international migrants residing in Africa were born on another continent. “This is the other side of the coin, and that would help to deconstruct the existing negative narrative and give a more balanced picture of migration in Africa,” she added.
Hein Haas, Migration Professor at the University of Amsterdam, cautioned that ignoring the “undeniable facts” could lead to both sides of the migration debate locking themselves into entrenched positions. Among these, Haas highlighted that: Africa is “the least migratory region in the world”; the overwhelming majority (9 out of 10) of African migrants enter Europe legally; destination societies, and elite groups in particular, benefit most from migration; and African migrants are generally well educated and are not the “poorest of the poor,” which goes against the conventional wisdom that poverty drives migration. He stressed, however, that African migration is bound to continue to increase as more people will have the “aspirations and capabilities” to move. He concluded that these realities call for a more nuanced interpretation of migration trends in order to develop more realistic responses.
“The real question here is not how to stop migration but how to deal with migration as part of a broader sustainable development agenda,” emphasized Loren Landau, Director of the African Center for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He lamented the continuing characterization of migration as a “problem” noting it leads to policy positions that frame economic development as the “solution” to migration. Stressing that governments have sufficient data on overall migration trends, he called for a focus on data analysis to gain insights on specific social/economic impacts – especially at local level.
Landau described the two competing approaches to migration governance on the continent as “facilitation and securitization,” with the latter increasingly seen in bilateral agreements with Europe. On the way forward, he proposed a multi-pronged strategy to “normalize and incentivize inclusion.” Among features of such an approach, he called for “continental resistance to aid conditionality for containment and securitization,” while promoting “welcoming communities” by providing greater support to local and subregional authorities.
Many participants noted the challenge of getting these messages to the ordinary citizen who has to deal with the impacts of migration on a daily basis. The need to demonstrate that migration can be a win-win solution for all was emphasized, as a way to counter mistrust and rising xenophobia in some countries. However, participants also pointed out that this requires having an honest discussion about what is not working. An example was given of the Ecowas region, which has already adopted provisions to facilitate free travel as well as re- establishment of migrants, but where labour mobility across countries remains a key bottleneck.
We agree on the fundamentals, but how do we push these lofty ideas?” asked HLPM member Danisa Baloyi, as she called for clear guidance to the Panel on the way ahead.
Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director, Social Development Policy Division, ECA, stressed the need for the final HLPM report to include “some hard truths,” including challenges in ongoing bilateral negotiations on returnees between some African countries and the EU that make it difficult for Africa to speak with one voice.
The experts called for the HLPM report to promote a new narrative through balanced messaging and practical recommendations that can help countries shift from the current focus on stopping migration towards frameworks that facilitate net benefits from migration. To inspire other countries, one participant called for the report to celebrate the introduction of visa-free travel by a number of countries, including Benin, Rwanda, Seychelles, Mauritius and Senegal.
On effective use of migration data, participants called for greater emphasis on “social remittances” to balance the current focus on financial remittances. Describing Mauritius as a “very good case study” of the benefits of migration, William Muhwava, ECA, stressed that the long-term benefits of visa free travel far outweigh the loss of visa income in the short-term, which include increased tourism and circulation of goods and services. He added that at the continental level, such benefits could account for as much as US$2 billion of the economy and accrue at all levels – from household to national.
Among specific messages for inclusion in the HLPM report, the discussions called for:
- A phased approach to migration governance in Africa, starting with removing visa restrictions while gradually exploring ways to achieve the aspirations of right of residence and right to establishment
- Involving local communities and authorities in migration planning through awareness raising as well as financial support and capacity development
- Advocating for the implementation of frameworks and protocols that have already been adopted by the different Regional Economic Communities
- Integrating the Global Compact on Migration within regional frameworks to enhance accountability
- Strengthening data analysis on African migration trends and impacts
- Prioritizing job creation and labour mobility for young people
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.