African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are urging the European Union to look at migration as a development agenda and not a security matter. Members of Parliament from the ACP said that migration is a serious issue that needs to be tackled by opening up safe and legal means of entry, rather than sending the immigrants back to their countries of origin.
The MPs added that migrants are desperate to escape war and poverty yet the restrictions are informing the political choices being made by various governments across Europe. Speaking in a meeting of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe, Pacific, Africa and the Caribbean (ALDEPAC), the Deputy Speaker, Right Jacob Oulanyah said that migration is not only based on security but also on economic reasons.
He said that persons who come to Africa from elsewhere overcrowd the little economic opportunities available forcing people to go looking in Europe. “When people migrate to Europe, they are called economic migrants and different rules apply. When Europeans come to Africa, they are called expatriates. We need to address this imbalance,” he said. Oulanyah added that there is need to address the underlying causes of migration like poverty, war and lately climate change.
He added that the governments also need to control the so called investors who come to Africa but end up doing work that would be done by the locals. Hon. Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo) called on governments to have regulatory policies on foreign investors concerning employment.
“We must recruit locals to work in the investor’s establishments. These investors must not bring their untrained workers who take away opportunities that would be enjoyed by the locals forcing them to move,” she said. Hon. Catherine Bearder from the United Kingdom agreed that migration is an economic issue, citing the need to have more young skilled people working in Europe.
“Europe desperately needs migrants. We need young people to provide their skills,” she revealed. Bearder called on the European Union to implement the Blue Visa which is a temporary pass for the arriving migrants, allowing them to gain some skills before they are deported.
“When these young people arrive on boats, we should give them basic skills like plumbing and electrical skills before sending them back,” she added. Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu from Sierra Leone weighed in saying ‘migration is as old as mankind’ adding that ‘Europeans came to Africa and took our raw materials.’
Bundu said that the young people migrating to Europe are looking to have some of the benefits accruing from the raw materials taken by the colonialists. “After graduating from university, these young people would like to go and see how the raw materials are being used and participate in the development,” he said.
While opening the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Monday, December 19 2016, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said that, “as long as the economic and political conditions remain dire, we shall continue seeing Africans drown in the Mediterranean Sea.’ ALDEPAC meets on the sidelines of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
The Assembly that has been meeting in Nairobi, Kenya will conclude with a debate on ‘How to support resettlement of migrants in their home country’. The Joint Assembly will also have a final vote on the motion for resolution on constitutional limits on presidential terms.
The Ugandan delegation in Nairobi included MPs Cecilia Ogwal(Dokolo), Juliet Kinyamatama(Rakai), Wamanga-Wamai (Mbale Municipality) and William Nokorach(PWDs).