Migration of people, if managed well, has been known to be the oldest remedy to poverty so countries should stop closing their borders to new arrivals, President Museveni has said.
In his address read by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda at the third Pan-African Forum on Migration at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala, Mr Museveni argued that since most migrants are of working age, they can represent an expansion of labour notwithstanding challenges of support services and respective national security.
“It is, therefore, incumbent upon governments to design evidence-based migration policies that seek to maximise positive impacts, especially in the areas of investment, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, education and trade.”
The President said Uganda is currently hosting more than 1.2 million forced migrants (refugees), the largest population in Africa and third largest in the world, which has had adverse impacts on, among others, socio-economic, security, and environmental aspects, which “calls for concerted effort to address the causes and effects of this forced migration.”
“Africa has abundance of resources and our people should not be dying on dangerous journeys on the Mediterranean in hope of better opportunities. This means that we need to create conducive environments for our people to prosper and live a good and peaceful life,” he said.
The summit, which ends tomorrow, under the theme “Towards a Common African Position on the Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees”, is part of the regional consultations for the Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees, which was adopted last September by the 193 UN member countries to start dialogue on the migration crisis.
Speaking at the summit, the Head of the European Delegation to Uganda, Mr Kristian Schmidt, said Uganda’s commitment to host such a large refugee population needs to be urgently bolstered by the international community.
“We need to work together to arrive at a win-win situation for both the migrants and their host countries and communities, as in northern Uganda. EU and Africa work together and have dialogues on migration at continental, regional and national levels,” Ambassador Schmidt said.
Overwhelmed by refugee numbers, government and the United Nations, agreed to organise a solidarity summit in Kampala next month in an attempt to raise at least $2b (Shs7 trillion) to fund relief operations. The summit to be attended by a dozen heads of state and delegates from key international organisations, will be co-chaired by President Museveni and the UN Secretary General, Mr António Guterres.