6 October 2009
Addis Abeba — As part of the Global 2009 Human Development Report launch, UNDP Ethiopia organized a half day event in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at Hilton Hotel in Addis on Monday. Findings of the report were presented and panel discussion under the theme 'Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development' followed.
UNDP Representative, Mr. Fidele Sarassoro, made welcoming remarks on the occasion in which he said, migration has become an issue of concern for the first time and there are a lot of misconceptions associated with it. The question is how to sustain human migration in a manner that benefits both the origin and destination nations, he added.
The 2009 UNDP Human Development Report has looked into why and how people migrate while recognizing the fact that for the migrants moving away could be the best option to improve their lives, he said. Most of these people migrate internally rather than to other countries, he added.
This year's report seeks ways of facilitating migration and avoid the suffering that occurs as a consequence of obstacles to smooth movement of people. The UNDP Resident Representative said that most of the barriers in this regard are government imposed. And the addressing of this obstacle benefits all parties concerned; origin and destination nations as well as the individual migrants.
There is no increase in migration of people since 1960, it was indicated on the occasion. But there is a marked change in the direction of this movement of people. And this, it was underlined, was a result of the growing disparities between the rich and the poor.
Economic and political factors create the push factors for citizens to move away, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development State Minister, Ato Ahmed Shide, said making official remarks. He also brought to attention the damages the migration of Ethiopians to foreign countries inflict on the nation's development.
Citing African Development Bank report of september 2006, he said, 50 percent of Ethiopians who left for training in the last 10-15 years did not return and according to IOM, Ethiopia lost about 74.6% of its human capital from 1981-91, he added. A study by Afro News says 80 percent of the nation's medical doctors leave annually and 3000 left in 2006, he went on.
There are potential benefits that can be reaped from the situatio but at the same time there are risks, he said.
Ambassador Fisseha Yimer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on his part said, migration of people could be considered an option to improve one's life but it is not the only one. Ethiopia benefits from the diaspora but suffers from the brain drain too. There are the harms to the individual migrant as well, he added.
It is in view of this challenge that the govermet of Ethiopia established offices at the MoFA and Ministry of Capacity Building as part of the measures to address it. These offices coordinate efforts, share information and provide services to the diaspora. There are also official visits to destination countries on top of the work done by the diplomatic missions there, he said.
Questions, however, remain. The 2009 HDR appears to look at the issue from the interests of the destination nations angle. It focuses on the issue of how to make this movement of people a smooth and sustained process. The benefits to the individual migrants, their families and remittances to the nation, and others perhaps, have been mentioned as benfits on the origin side.
But there are questions to ask sooner of later and more importantly, address. Are the benefits to both sides nearly comparable? It is fair to build some nations at the expense of those at the other extreme? Origin nations might have created the push factors but can that justify the harms the situation incurs?
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