By Akanimo Sampson
As part of the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) efforts to increase awareness of migration as a key driver in the development agenda, the IOM Mission in South Africa this week supported an educational visit for students to the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This visit was a culmination of preparatory work dating back to the Mkhaya Migrant Award Essay Competition of 2016.
The seven student winners of the essay competition – an initiative by South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in response to the xenophobic attacks of 2015 – represent the country’s provincial universities.
They are in Addis Ababa to gain an insight on the dynamics that inform policy decision making processes on the continent, with a special focus on migration governance.
The students have visited the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Addis Ababa University’s Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) as well as IOM’s Special Liaison Office in Ethiopia to gain insight on multilateralism.”
They are accompanied by officials from IOM, South Africa’s DHA and the Department of Social Development (DSD).
Lily Sanya, IOM Chief of Mission in South Africa, who is accompanying the delegation said, “this is a strategic partnership that we hope will lay a foundation for youth engagement at the highest platform and also identify a possible youth ambassador to work with on future social cohesion programmes specifically as a tool towards realising an integrated continent guided by the aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.”
Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission in Ethiopia welcomed the South African delegation saying, “despite the bleak backdrop against which this visit is taking place, it was planned months ago and I come out of it heartened by the genuine interest I sense on the part of the Government of South Africa and the youth from that country to understand better the continental migration dynamics, and how the vexed phenomenon that is migration could be better managed for the benefit of host countries and of the migrants themselves in South Africa.”
“This visit will go a long way in empowering these young people to influence change and perceptions, drive programmes that support integration and strengthen communication at all levels within the country”, noted Peter Netshipale, Deputy Director General, Community Development in DSD.
The DHA representative, Nolwandle Qaba, added, “this as an opportunity for the future leaders of South Africa to gain a better understanding of continental integration and its benefits and on their return home, they can channel their learnings to fellow youth and contribute to breaking stereotypes about other countries and nationalities.”
This visit further complements IOM’s global efforts on youth and migration issues. Earlier this year the first International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) of 2019 took place in New York and it provided a global, diverse and inclusive platform for discussions to engage the youth with not only decision makers on migration, but also with other key actors in migration and related-areas, at all levels.