Speakers at a forum at the maiden edition of International Migration Recruitment and Advisory Policy Centre (IMPRAC), have emphasised the need for governments within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to address cross-border challenges affecting migrants.
They said although the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted significantly on human mobility, the living conditions of migrants in West African countries must be prioritised ahead of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The speakers included the Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Dr. Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse, who is also the Board Chair of IMPRAC and the Regional Director for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Southern Africa, Mr. Charles Kwenin.
The forum, which was organised by IMPRAC, was on the topic: “Ethical recruitment for decent work and assistance to migrants”.
Among topics discussed were labour migration policies and ethical recruitment, impact of COVID-19 on migration and human mobility in Africa, challenges and opportunities of international labour recruitment in Ghana.
A website under the url, www.imprac.org with relevant information on migration to provide assistance and education to migrants was also launched.
Dr. Mrs. Chinery-Hesse in her presentation further said West African countries needed to implement ethical recruitment policies for migrants to create a conducive environment for them within the sub region while ensuring wealth creation.
She said although migrants generally suffered, African migrants suffered most, hence the need for leaders within the region to collectively reflect on how to enrich their individual countries to boost successful labour mobility.
“As we prepare for the implementation of the AfCFTA, African leaders need to make sure that the issue is tackled at all levels.
“And as we move towards the implementation of AfCFTA, we must make sure we do not repeat the old mistakes; we need to make sure we protect migrants,” Dr. Mrs. Chinery-Hesse added.
According to her, countries needed to provide policy guidelines and legal frameworks to ensure that decent jobs were created for African migrants within the sub region.
For his part, Mr. Kwenin said the advent of the pandemic had resulted in an unprecedented restriction of human mobility as a result of protocols by various governments within the sub region.
He said as countries worked towards containing the spread of the virus ahead of the implementation of AfCFTA, living conditions of migrants such as victims of human trafficking must be incorporated into their respective national agenda.
Social interventions such as relief packages must also be extended to migrants by the governments, Mr. Kwenin said, adding that AfCFTA would be successful if African countries restructured their international migration visa regimes.
The Chief of Mission for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Ghana, Ms. Abibatou Wane, observed that the destination of Ghanaian migrants had become diverse as such, there was the need for a comprehensive departure orientation for migrants in the country.
She said the IOM was committed and ready to work with the government through the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to offer technical advice and also develop a mutual migration policy for the country to ensure the protection of migrant workers.
The Director of Operations of IMPRAC, Ms. Matilda Kudafa, explained that the new website would create awareness of a range of international migration services to migrants before, during and upon arrival at their final destinations, particularly during the COVID-19 period.
She said the website would also provide potential migrants with the opportunity to access the services of IMPRAC to make informed decisions about their migration plans through timely and reliable information.