Healing the African family

03 July 2019 | Opinion

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) regional director for west and central Africa, Richard Danziger, describes migration as the defining issue of this century. One billion people - a seventh of the world's population - are migrants. Some 258 million people are international migrants, 40 million are internally displaced and 24 million are refugees or asylum-seekers, he wrote for Africa Renewal online. He said there was no longer a single state that can claim to be untouched by human mobility. Widespread population displacement is also linked to violent conflicts and unstable environmental conditions that have led to millions of people being displaced or needing humanitarian assistance in Africa. Migrants fleeing violence have spilled across the borders of neighbouring countries. Namibian head of state and Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson, Hage Geingob - speaking during the 2019 Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa ministerial conference held in Windhoek last week - said African counties need to create conditions that will keep their people on the continent and entice those back who have left. Geingob said Africa continues to battle irregular migration and the displacement of citizens, due to conflicts and the search for better economic conditions.

“We have also noted with concern that Africans lose their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea en route to seek refuge in Europe.” Geingob said that at the same, “we need to promote the re-admission and reintegration of the diaspora back to Africa”. He said such efforts will ensure that our people can return to their countries of origin with dignity, and contribute to the development of the continent. Geingob added, crucially, that migration must be seen as a means through which Africans can aspire to greater dignity, safety and a better future.

“We owe it to our people, as we are all part of the regional family, the African family and the human family.”

This is a critical message, which must be heeded, if we are to heal the African family.

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