GENEVA - A High-level panel on migration says sub-regional migration on the continent is brisk and having a beneficial impact on African economies. During a two-day meeting in Geneva, the panel has been exploring ways to maximize these benefits by making migration safe, orderly and regular.
The U.N. Migration Agency reports 1 billion people are currently on the move. Yet, media reports of migration crises such as those in the Mediterranean Sea and along the border between the United States and Latin America tend to paint a negative image of this process. Rarely do they discuss the many contributions made by migrants to their adoptive societies.
Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is chair of the high-level panel on migration. She says it is time to end this misperception of migrants and to demystify migration on the African continent.
Sirleaf says the human tragedy unfolding in the Mediterranean Sea makes it seem that hordes of migrants are fleeing Africa. She tells VOA, though, the number of Africans crossing over is relatively small.
“But because they face such hardships, because many times their rights are infringed upon, these get the sensational reports and then it forms this perception that a majority of Africans are trying to leave the continent to seek opportunities," she said, "but, the reality is really far from the perception.”
Sirleaf says data show within the continent, 70 percent of the overall migration is Intra-African; that is, Africans moving from one African country to another.
Former Liberian President Sirleaf says the free movement of goods and services, and development strategies require the free movement of people across national boundaries. She says this will enable African countries to explore opportunities and achieve economic transformation.