The region’s borders are some of the busiest, as they cut across key migration routes focused on the movement of people within the region and to other major destinations, including Europe and the Gulf countries. Disparate national priorities among adjourning countries do not always make cooperation possible. But this could soon be thing of the past, as border authority managers from neighbouring states – some meeting for the first time – established a new rapport and struck significant operational agreements.
This followed a first-of-its-kind workshop organized by the UN migration agency IOM in late October that brought together directors general of immigration and senior immigration and border management officers from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
The workshop took place under the aegis of the Better Migration Management (BMM) Programme - a regional, multi-year and multi-partner programme funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), coordinated by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Bilateral and trilateral meetings between and among representatives of all the eight countries represented produced significant results for implementation. The highlights of these IOM-facilitated meetings, include:
First time agreement between Ethiopia and South Sudan to conduct joint, cross border patrols; and to work together to open new border crossings points between the two countries. Sudan and South Sudan agreed to work together to open four border crossing points, including One Stop Border Posts. Uganda and South Sudan agreed to implement joint, cross border patrols, and to establish “Integrated Border Management Committees”. Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia agreed to implement Integrated Border Management Committees; and Joint Interagency, Cross- Border Patrols. Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania agreed to increased cooperation and implement “Good Practices” on Counter-Trafficking efforts; implement Joint Interagency Cross- Border Patrols.
The eight countries requested IOM to support a follow-up meeting to buttress the establishment of the proposed interagency, cross-border, technical working Groups. IOM is currently developing action plans to respond to stakeholder requests which will be funded through BMM and will be completed by June 30, 2019.
Keynote speaker at the workshop, Kenya Principal Secretary for Immigration and Registration of Persons, Rtd Maj-Gen Gordon Kihalangwa, said: “With increasing complexity of migration flows, countries in the East and Horn of Africa region should enhance cross-border cooperation in order to effectively deal with existing challenges in border management which include; trafficking of persons and smuggling of migrants among other forms of transnational organized crime”.
Julia Hartlieb, the BMM Senior Regional Programme Coordinator, said: “The Better Migration Management Programme has recorded key milestones in providing support to countries through the National Coordination Mechanisms for Migration, the provision of equipment and MIDAS border equipment, training, benchmarking visits to operationalization of e-visa and e-immigration systems.