Conference to address imbalances in global migration narratives held in Accra 

By Patience Gbeze, GNA 

Accra, Feb. 26, GNA – A Migration conference to create the platform for fair dialogue for citizens, researchers and stakeholders has been held in Accra. 

A day’s conference, on the theme: “Rebalancing the Views on Migration Narratives,” is to seek redress to the imbalances in the global migration narrative. 

International organisations, the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), researchers, stakeholders, donors, representatives of migrants’ associations, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) working on migration-related issues participated. 

The conference created an opportunity fair platform for stakeholders to move beyond the usual migration issues bordering on restrictive and abusive border controls, to talk about equal partnerships where excess skills that may not be needed could be exported in exchange of those of high demand by the sending countries. 

The Migration Dialogue formed part of the Opportunities Project being undertaken by the Centre for Migration Studies (CMS), University of Ghana, Legon with funding from the European Commission.  

Professor Mary Boatemaa Setrana, the Director of CMS, said the University of Ghana’s Centre for Migration Studies was one of the nine consortium members of the Opportunities Project. 

She said the project aimed at bringing together migrants, citizens and locals, national and regional stakeholders from Africa and Europe to dialogue on migration issues that could benefit the immigrants, their country of origin and the destination countries too.  

“This dialogue is deliberative where members are expected to listen and create shared narratives of migration. I am particularly hopeful that the voices of Africans, especially our youth and women would be articulated,” she added. 

Prof. Daniel Ofori, the Provost of the College of Humanities, University of Ghana, said the Accra dialogue would also integrate knowledge and experiences from diverse African stakeholders, as they all worked towards enhancing migration opportunities and reducing the challenges thereof.  

He said human mobility had been part of the African migration history, with cultural records of their consistent movement. 

Despite the recent challenges in the West African sub-region, in places like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the ECOWAS free movement protocol had facilitated mobility across the region, he said.  

Beyond ECOWAS, the Schengen Area visa is another test case challenging border control conventions and such free movements had facilitated trade, labour mobility and other forms of development that cannot be underestimated. 

Prof. Ofori said the theme for the conference was timely as there was growing need to re-examine the narratives on migration globally, since those were often cast in “Manichean dualism of a desperate African migrant, seeking greener pastures and a good white migrant bringing economic relief”.   

However, he said he was confident that the conference would delve into fair dialogue to address such imbalances in global migration narratives to ensure that the right to mobility was given its real meaning within the context of rebalancing the migration stories and policies. 

Mr Michel Debruyne, the Coordinator of Opportunities General,  emphasised the need to give voice to others to talk freely about migration and how to change the narratives to benefit all. 

He said the use of life stories on migration and reintegration to educate communities was key in changing the negative narratives, focusing the contributions of these persons to national development. 

Ms Sylvia Tizzi, the Programme Officer in-charge of Migration and Youth Governance at the European Union, said migration and mobility was a vital tool for development and called for strong links between the academic institutions and students, to research into how the topic could be harnessed to open communities and ensure development. 

Mr Isaac Owusu Mensah, the Deputy Comptroller of Immigration, said continuous education and awareness creation on the contributions of migrants to socio-cultural and economic development would promote an inclusive society. 

Mr Collins Yeboah, the Return and Reintegration Officer, IOM-Ghana, said so far, they had received 999 returnees and supported over 400 of them with business opportunities.