In Africa 52 percent of migrants move within the region, mostly between neighbouring countries, a UN expert has told the African Regional Consultative Meeting on the proposed global compact of migration, which concludes in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Friday.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, explained at the meeting, which kicked off on Thursday, that the migration debate to date had mostly focused on Europe, but needed to adapt to other regional realities including Africa.

Emphasising the importance of an increased variety and scope of legal pathways for non-refugee migrants to access labour markets, the UN expert explained that both the push factors, such as conflict, poverty and climate change, and the pull factors, including labour shortages and informal economies in destination countries, remained too strong for migratory flows to be significantly curtailed.

In such a situation, she said, “the impact of policies seeking to stop migration will only encourage recourse to irregular channels and increase the cost of the journey for the individuals concerned, including them engaging the services of smugglers – too often, fatally. 

“We must therefore better understand what compels people to migrate through irregular channels, and expand regular and legal pathways to better manage the supply and demand in the world’s labour markets,” she stressed.

The conclusions drawn at the meeting will inform the process leading up to the adoption of the global compact on migration by the UN General Assembly in 2018.

The process to develop this global compact for migration started in April 2017. It will be the first, inter-governmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the UN, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.

- African News Agency (ANA)