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Project News: ICMPD expert panel at the 2019 European Development Days

19 June 2019

The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) organised an expert panel to discuss inequalities in the context of migration during the 13th edition of the European Development Days in Brussels on 18 June 2019.

Organised by the European Commission since 2006, the European Development Days (EDD) is an annual forum that brings together the EU development community. For this year’s theme “Addressing Inequalities: building a world which leaves no one behind” ICMPD organised an expert panel to discuss inequalities along the migration journey in their temporal and spatial perspectives.

Drawing from the experiences of the Support Programme to the Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue (MMD) and capacity-building programmes MIgration EU eXpertise (MIEUX) and Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project (MC2CM), the session gathered four speakers representing academia, local and national governments, and international organisations, all of whom collaborate actively with ICMPD. The expert panel focused on the complex and evolving links between migration/mobility and inequalities, delving into to the role of regional frameworks and local government in tackling inequalities with examples from Western Africa, Central America and Europe.

Reflecting on the session, Mr. Ralph Genetzke, Head of Brussels Mission stated: “ICMPD collaborates closely with very different stakeholders through multiple projects in EU partner countries. This is a clear strength when analysing complex topics such as inequalities in the context of migration and mobility, because these networks can provide in-depth knowledge about regional and local strategies, initiatives and institutional responses that address these multifaceted realities.”

Highlights from the panel

The discussion focused on different moments along the  migration journey, starting with root causes of irregular migration in Western Africa, as presented by Ms. Audrey Jolivel, Coordinator of the Rabat Process Secretariat and ICMPD Focal Point for West Africa, who discussed the main findings from the forthcoming study entitled “Social Immobility vs social mobility: the root causes of international emigration”, carried out for the ICMPD by Dr. Nelly Robin of the French Research Institute for Development. One of the study’s conclusions is that inequality of opportunities in the country of origin may explain the decision to migrate: emigration is emerging as an alternative to immobility and social injustice. Linked also to social and cultural norms, the issue of root causes is complex and remains a topic to be further explored by the Rabat Process in order to improve shared understanding of migratory phenomena and to strengthen migration management.

The panel followed with what mechanisms might protect migrant workers in Africa, as described by Mr. Andrew Allieu, Social Protection and Labour Migration expert, International Labour Organization (ILO), Regional Office for Africa, and currently involved in the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLPM), part of MMD. Migrant workers are affected by discrimination and exclusion, legislative barriers, exploitation and abuse, among others. In the Western Africa context, where an estimated 90% of workers operate in the informal economy, current social protection mechanisms may fail to cover their needs. This is where JLMP is trying to address these imbalances, working on extending social security to migrant workers through access and portability regimes compatible with international standards and good practices. 

The next panellist, Ms. Laura Sánchez Solano, Legal Advisor, from the General-Directorate for Migration and Immigration in Costa Rica, explained to the audience how her small country, where 13% of the population has migrant origins, tackled new dimensions of inequality through a National Integration Plan (NIP), the first of its kind in the region, with specific programmes that are funded by an ad-hoc Social Migration Fund. The NIP seeks the integration and inclusion of migrant and refugee populations in Costa Rica, encouraging equal opportunities, equity and respect for human rights through the joint endeavour of public and private sectors to integrally improve social, economic and cultural spaces. The development of the NIP was supported by MIEUX in a recent Action that concluded in December 2017. 

Having explored the regional and national contexts, the panel turned its attention to the local level of governance. Mr. Lamine Abbad, Project Manager for MC2CM, shared a few challenges affecting migrants upon arrival to a new city. Primarily, the lack of access to information hinders their ability to access basic services such as education, healthcare and housing. However, local governments are not inclined to create migrant-specific programmes in order to avoid further stigmatisation, opting instead for an approach that will ensure migrants are aware of what services are available and that civil society organisations are brought on as partners. Barcelona’s Intercultural Programme was cited as an example of an inclusive practice, which seeks to understand its citizens as belonging to one large umbrella community of residents.

The Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform (ADEPT), supported by MMD, was also present at the EDD hosting a stand with its members to promote the role of diaspora in tackling inequality. More than 20 diaspora member organisations joined ADEPT and hosted meet-ups and quizzes at the stand to engage participants in the discussion.