‘Develop policies to make migration more rational’


– Says UG’s Director of Strategic Initiatives

THERE are factors which push and pull persons to migrate and as a result Director of Strategic Initiatives at the University of Guyana (UG) Dr. Fitzgerald Yaw has said that policies should be developed in Guyana so that migration can be made more rational.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the third annual Global Migration Film Festival organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Yaw stated clearly: “People are always going to move,” and later added: “We have to look to develop policies to make migration more rational.”

Yaw bemoaned the fact that goods can move more freely between countries, but people do not have that much freedom. He also drew attention to the fact that in countries such as Guyana, people emigrate in search of economic opportunities– whether to northern countries, or even to neighbouring countries.

“We have to look at policies where people go to other countries, work for a while and come back… We have to put measures in place so that if people work outside for a while, they can still contribute [to social security schemes],” he posited.

At the festival, the documentary ‘Bushfaller’ was screened. The movie explored migration in Africa where persons contended with movement to metropolitan countries (to Europe specifically), to achieve some economic gain. Other push-and-pull factors were explored too, and the film even touched on modern-day slavery– that is, human trafficking.

Yaw noted that as evidenced in the movie, there are some push/pull factors which cause people to move. And this is not peculiar to Guyana, where he noted that emigration occurs when persons want better economic opportunities.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director for Decent Work in the Caribbean, Claudia Coenjaerts, told the Guyana Chronicle recently that the portability of social security schemes should be examined in the Caribbean, where persons can access social services in whichever Caribbean country to which they travel.

In this context, Yaw contended: “[Migration] is a complex issue, but it’s solvable.”

IOM’s Regional Coordination Officer for the Caribbean, Robert Natiello, told the Guyana Chronicle, however, that focus must be directed to the immigration that is happening in Guyana presently as well.

“I think this is an interesting time in Guyana because Guyana has traditionally been– or at least since independence–a country of emigration; and I think now that we’ve seen that’s changing a bit,” Natiello said.

He explained too that when oil revenues start to flow into the country and the country undergoes further development– particularly to its infrastructure– more people will be coming to Guyana to look for work. And he did not necessarily mean members of the diaspora or foreign ‘experts.’

The officer noted that people do not always migrate to Europe or North America; in fact, he related, “There is a lot of South- South migration and I think Guyana will start to see more of this where it will get more inflows [of people] from its neighbours.”

To contend with this inevitable occurrence, he too noted that there must be measures to manage migration.

“Migration is not a problem to be solved, it is a reality to be managed,” he said, noting that it must be managed so as to reduce its negative effects and maximise its benefits.

The IOM is a body that provides technical assistance to governments, so that they can craft migration policies and better assist migrants.

As such, Natiello noted: “We try to reduce the negative aspects of migration and our desire is that people don’t have to migrate out of desperation… they migrate because they want to, or because they have an opportunity; not because they have to or because there are these vast economic disparities.”