Addis Ababa (ENA) November 21/2022 Enhancing the capacities of Labour attachés of East African countries based in the Middle East is vital to improve the working conditions and protection of migrant workers, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) underscored.

A five-day training workshop entitled: “Regional Training for labour Attachés of IGAD Member States in the Middle East” kicked off today in Addis Ababa.

The training focuses on the dynamics of labor migration and challenges, international normative and policy frameworks and their role in addressing abusive and exploitative Labour migration practices.

It also aims at providing needed support to migrant workers and collaboration among countries of origin and destination, it was indicated.

In her keynote address, Fathia Alwan, Director for Health and Social Development of IGAD Social said that the number of labour migrant workers from the horn of Africa is increasingly seeking protection from the labour attachés assigned in the embassies, missions and consulates in the Middle East.

Therefore, it is imperative to enhance the capacities of labour attachés in the Middle East as the countries of destination namely Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate and Qatar, she underlined.   

 “Hence, it is vital to enhance the capacities of Labour attachés of IGAD Member States in the Middle East that are engaged in the labour migration governance to improve the working conditions and protection of migrant workers in the countries of destination.”

According to the director, migration from the IGAD region to the Middle East is often driven by multiple and interrelated factors, including economic, political and environmental issues. This is because there is a notable increase in demand for workforce in various industries in the Middle East countries.

As a result, the increasing migration flows to the Middle East is becoming an important source of remittances for the IGAD Member States, she said.

However, Alwan argued migrant workers from the IGAD region have been facing abuses and intimidations in those countries of destination.

 “For the substantial inflow of remittances to our region, ensuring rights protection and well-being of the migrants’ workers in the countries of destination is pivotal. Unfortunately, hearing the report of right abuses of migrant workers and receiving dead bodies becoming a common phenomenon,” she underscored.

The director also reiterated IGAD’s commitment to continue spearheading the agenda of safe labour migration in the region and ready to proactively engage in the Regional and Continental labour Dialogue.

Ethiopian Foreign State Minister, Ambassador Birtukan Ayano said on her part that the protection of  migrant workers has to be a high concern for the government of the IGAD member states  since  the majority of workers  are employed in a low skill occupation and  often  exposed to various kinds of abuses.

The state minister also stressed the need for a robust, comprehensive and coordinated effort to tackle the adverse effects of such challenges related to migration in the IGAD sub-region.

She also highlighted some of the measures taken by the Ethiopian government such as increasing the competitiveness of migrants in the labour-market by equipping them with the necessary skills, and ensuring that their rights are respected.

In this regard, the role of labour attaches proves to be significant. “The need to strengthen the capacity of labour attaches, both in number and skills has been given due attention by the government,” Ambassador Birtukan noted.

 “My government has initiated programs and established structures with the view to effectively challenges related to migration. I would like to emphasize that the government is working proactively to ensure execution of its responsibilities and meet its obligation set out in different   regional and global initiatives and conventions on migration through joint efforts   with relevant stakeholders and partners.”

Ambassador Birtukan hoped that the four-day workshop would address   the fundamental subject of  labour migration governance  enhancing  knowledge and skill of the labour attachés of countries of the IGAD sub-region.

She  added: “This would also enable to   share experiences and best practices as well as coming up   with practical recommendations in the area of labour migration governance……I would like to reiterate my ministry’s commitment and readiness to continue to work with IGAD and all involved in the migration sector with enhanced collaboration and cooperation for the benefit of  our citizens and our countries.”

Director of the ILO Country Office for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, Alexio Musindo said the Middle East Countries have become important destinations for migrant workers from the IGAD region.

The Middle East is the region with the highest proportion of migrants in its labour force, in some countries migrant workers represent more than 80 percent of the labour force, he pointed out.

 “However, many migrant workers are often found in temporary, unprotected jobs, which makes them vulnerable to decent work deficits,  Special attention has to be paid to women migrant workers, as they are over-represented in low-paid and low-skilled jobs and have limited access to and fewer options for support services.”

Thus, Musindo underlined the purpose of this workshop for  Labour Attachés of IGAD Member States in the Middle East  is to enable labour attaches and consular officials working in Kingdom of Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United  Arab Emirates to fulfill their roles and responsibilities in advancing decent work for migrant workers.

As the workshop also pays particular attention to the needs of women migrant workers, including domestic workers,  it is expected that the protection of migrant workers shall be enhanced based on acquired knowledge and skills, it was indicated.

State Minister of Labor and Skills, Nigusu Tilahun said on his part establishing networks for Labour Attachés is crucial especially with relevant authorities in the countries of destination and other stakeholders to protect migrant workers.

As a result, the government of Ethiopia is trying to ensure that those migrants are protected and equipped with relevant skills to make them competent in the international labour market.

“As committed in its migration policy in development, Ethiopia’s approach to migration will ensure that the human rights of migrants,   their dignity and security, regardless of country of destination….are respected at all stages of migration and properly addressed,” he noted

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