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Migrants

“The AU 2063 Agenda should consider what Africa Refugees want”

 

by Jean-Pierre A. Lukamba Om.

 

A lot of forced migration in Africa is the direct result of political turmoil, lack of democracy, repression and human rights violations. For instance, over five million Mozambican nationals left their country during the civil war in the 1980s.

So did Angolans during the civil war. More than four million Zimbabweans migrated to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Europe, Australia and other countries as a result of political and economic crises, particularly between 2000 and 2009. Similarly, the migration of eight million of Congolese (DRC) people to other countries is clearly a result of conflict, human rights abuses, mismanagement of public resources and a failing state. Consequently they search for peace and livelihoods elsewhere.

The Basotho left their landlocked country in South Africa during years of military rule in search of peace and employment opportunities in South Africa, particularly. Some black South Africans also migrated to countries such as Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, etc. in search of better education during the apartheid years.

Lack of democracy, repression, abuse of power, poor governance and human rights violations result in the undesirable movement of people and complicate the urge towards free movement of people and tolerance for refugees. In order to achieve free movement of persons, the African Union (AU) needs to be firm and principled in its engagement with other member states.

For instance, the AU should have been frank with the EU in removing the economic sanctions they imposed against Zimbabwe, as these sanctions are impacting negatively in the region. The AU should also be clear with Swaziland on the point that denial of citizens’ rights to participate in political processes is a time bomb ticking for both the country and the region.

The DRC also, among others, should appreciate the centrality of an effective state, peace, good governance and stability in regional integration and development, in fact that should be a priority for all member states. Unless the AU insists that member states should adhere to good democratic governance and security standards, the continent will suffer from undesirable migration.

The resultant forced migration will breed xenophobia, strain multi-lateral relations and ultimately derail the drive towards free movement of persons, and respect and tolerance for refugees. Considering the 2012 Western union report regarding the money immigrants, including refugees, are sending back home to their families and friends, it was clear that in countries like Nigeria and the DRC, those immigrants’ contributions exceed the annual budgets of these two respective countries. This is the reason why the new AU Chair is considering African Diaspora as the fourth pillar for African development in terms of investment in the continent and the transfer of skills. But the AU should use a more participatory approach in designing some policies which will impact on the citizens of the continent. The AU 2063 agenda should reflect the needs of the African people on the ground, not what the heads of states think Africans want.

 

The AU should:

 

1.Recognise African migrants as contributors to the continental’s economy.

2.Recognise African migrants as self-employed in term of jobs creation.

3.Recognise African migrants as bringing business and other skills to the continent.

4.Regulate the free movement of Africans across the continent as this will boost trade, culture and skills exchange on the continent.

5.Start thinking about the African identity and citizenship to fight any kind of discrimination toward other nationalities, as this will enable all Africans to start seeing each other as brother and sister. The AU-ECOSOC, should play a more active role in interacting with the different African diaspora/African refugees communities. For example, they should assist in running integration projects such as culture, education, business skills development and transfer cooperatives).

 

 

Jean-Pierre A. Lukamba Om

Human Rights Activist

Vice Chairman: African Diaspora Forum

Read more about Jean-Pierre and his view on being a futurist

 

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