Address drivers of migration–Greenidge urges forum

Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge flanked by Ambassador Michael Brotherson and IOM Regional Coordination Officer for the Caribbean and Chief of Mission in Guyana, Robert Natiello, seated at the head table.

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge underscored the importance of maximizing the benefits of migration while reducing the drivers of it, when he addressed the opening ceremony of a National Consultative Meeting on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration at the Pegasus Hotel.

Acknowledging that there are many challenges surrounding migration, the Foreign Affairs Minister said through the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, they can be addressed. “The basic challenges we have to address are to maximize the benefits of migration, reduce the drivers of migration, protect human rights of all migrants and keep the balance between security and counterproductive restrictive policies,” Greenidge told his distinguished audience.

Minister Greenidge said while migration has had a negative face, the benefits of regular migration cannot be understated. “Migration in recent years has been catapulted to the forefront of the international agenda, the large movements of desperate persons, sometimes migrants and refugees and the rise of anti-immigrant political movement has cast a shadow of distrust over migration and migrants themselves. However, we must not allow these challenges to let us forget that migration has been broadly a beneficial movement for peoples across the world,” he explained.

The Foreign Affairs Minister further pointed out that migration has largely been a source of economic growth, especially in the areas of innovation and sustainable development while adding that remittances have boosted the national development of many developing nations.

In embracing the need for a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, he said it is key for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and stakeholders must play their part. “We must also acknowledge that the narrative surrounding migration today is largely negative and can often be dangerous for those who are most vulnerable. It is of utmost importance that we act to reverse these narratives and not allow xenophobia and racism and other forms of discrimination to drive the agenda,” he added.

In explaining the Global Compact for Migration, IOM Regional Coordination Officer for the Caribbean and Chief of Mission in Guyana, Robert Natiello said in September 2016, Heads of State and Government, for the first time discussed the issues relating to migration and refugees at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

In adopting the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the 193 UN Member States recognised the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level and committed to the development of a Global Compact on Migration.

He said Monday’s meeting, which was organized by the Foreign Affairs Ministry in conjunction with the IOM, was critical and timely to the process, positing that worldwide migration will continue throughout the rest of the century to be one of the most transnational social issues.

While acknowledging Guyana’s history with respect to migration and its impact, the IOM Chief of Mission said the country continues to be a destination for citizens from neighbouring countries who are often times in search of work in the mining and logging Industries.

“As the economy of Guyana is projected to grow…and economic activities increase with the development of infrastructure and accompanying services, the country would likely continue to be a magnet for both immigrants and returning Guyanese who would be looking for new opportunities,” he posited.

For this and other reasons, he said it is even more important for the country to be an active player in the process – a commitment it has already given.
Head of the Diaspora Unit of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ambassador Michael Brotherson, in his remarks, said the National Consultative Meeting on the Global Company for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is of immense importance as Guyana joins the international community in participating in the final stages of the process of the adoption of the Global Compact in 2018.

“The Global Compact is centred around addressing the challenges faced by migrants today, including, but not limited to, effective protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, including women and children, the specific needs of migrants in vulnerable situation and combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination,” he explained.

In reiterating the country’s support for the Global Compact on Migration, he said Guyana will continue to be meaningfully engaged in the process even as it remains mindful of its peculiarities.

The process to develop the Global Compact for migration started in April 2017. This year, the UN General Assembly will hold an intergovernmental conference on international migration with a view to adopting the Global Compact.

The Global Compact is a significant opportunity to improve the governance on migration to address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.

Director of Multilateral and Global Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Troy Torrington; Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally; and Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. Ivelaw Griffith, were among the senior functionaries present.