On 31 March 2021, more than 100 attendees and panellists met online during a 2-hour long webinar on the Prevention of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation.

The webinar was the first in a 4-Module Webinar Series titled Trafficking in Human Beings:  The 4Ps Revisited, each tackling one of the 4Ps of THB – Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnership.

The objective of this first webinar was to present regional and national initiatives linked to the prevention of exploitation for the purpose of forced labour, through improved management of labour migration, as well as to discuss the means of reducing fraudulent or abusive recruitment practices and promoting better-informed, rights-based migration.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) expert, Ms Aida Awel, set the stage for the discussion by providing an overview on labour exploitation in the Khartoum Process region, looking at trends, challenges, and responses.

The panel on regional cooperation to prevent labour exploitation included presentations on Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) external cooperation to prevent trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation through bilateral and regional agreements and the work of the European Labour Authority (ELA).

Moving on to the topic of pre-departure trainings and awareness raising on the road, presentations included Kenya’s National Employment Authority (NEA) pre-departure trainings for Kenyan migrant workers and the Better Migration Management (BMM) initiative in cooperation with Stop the Traffik, using public transport to raise awareness on the dangers of human trafficking.

In a third and final panel on ethical recruitment, Uganda’s External Employment Management Information System (EEMIS) and Seefar’s project, TERA, for safe and sustainable migration outcomes through ethical recruitment, were presented.

Rich in content and expertise, the webinar provided an opportunity for attendees to gain new insights and inspiration from the good practices presented, in the spirt of partnership and collaboration, despite the temporary lack of opportunities for in-person interactions.

The current global COVID-19 pandemic, the health security measures, and the ensuing travel restrictions have widespread consequences for people across the world, including in the Khartoum Process partner countries.

While Khartoum Process partners are exploring new (long-distance) modalities of expertise sharing, cooperation, and dialogue in the absence of opportunities to meet on-location, we take this opportunity to look back at the in-person events organised to date in the framework of the Process.

In brief, between November 2015 and March 2020, 2 Informal Working Groups (WG), 9 Steering Committee (SC) Meetings, 7 Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM),  12 Thematic Meetings (TM) and 1 Regional Training have gathered almost 1,800 delegates and resulted in over 130 recommendations.

The graphic below provides a snapshot of these meetings, as well as the various SC meetings and SOMs, as strategic and decision-making bodies of the Process.

Please click on the picture for a full size view.

Two thirds into 2020, the trio of linked crises — the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic and protection crises — have been affecting mixed migration dynamics all over the world. Countries along the migration route between the Horn of Africa and Europe are no exception to this reality.

Understanding the medium- and long-term implications of COVID-19 on migration for Khartoum Process partners poses a series of questions: How will the crisis impact mixed migration drivers, the aspirations of potential migrants and their capacity to move? In light of a potential increase in the aspirations (or need) to migrate, and rising border restrictions, will the demand for smuggling services increase? How is the crisis impacting the journeys of people on the move and their exposure to protection violations? How does this affect particularly vulnerable groups, such as families with children and women traveling alone? What are the implications for national and regional migration policies and responses?

The current global COVID-19 pandemic, the health security measures, and the ensuing travel restrictions have widespread consequences for people across our regions. Although the pandemic and consequent measures have limited the possibility for Khartoum Process partners to meet in person, this has not prevented the dialogue and cooperation from continuing.

To mitigate the impact of the pandemic on Khartoum Process activities, as well as address some of the pandemic’s consequences, The Netherlands, in its capacity of Chair of the Khartoum Process, has been exploring new formats of activities for the short- to medium-term, until the international situation will allow for the resumption of in-person meetings.

The first such activity took place on the 2nd of July, in the form of a virtual meeting, gathering online over 50 participants.

On the 6th of March 2020, Khartoum Process partners’ representatives met in The Hague, The Netherlands, for the 7th Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Process. Delegates had the opportunity to take stock of the work carried out during the Eritrean Chairmanship, discuss governance matters, and agree on a way forward for the finalisation of the Joint Valetta Action Plan update, initiated in April 2019.

This meeting also marked the Chairmanship handover from Eritrea to The Netherlands. As a result, the work plan for the Chairmanship of The Netherlands was also broadly defined on this occasion.

Participants confirmed the value and relevance of the Khartoum Process as a forum to discuss issues of common interest for the countries along the migration route in the Horn of Africa and Europe in order to identify concrete areas of cooperation.

In 2019, the Khartoum Process continued the implementation of its mandate by further supporting the participating states in their efforts to prevent and tackle the challenges of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants between the Horn of Africa and Europe. The implementation of the mandate was supported, among others, through piloting a novel format of an activity, namely Regional Training Programme on Countering Trafficking in Human Beings.   

Additionally, concrete examples of continued work include the expansion of the thematic focus, with the aim to systematically address the five pillars of the Joint Valletta Action Plan (JVAP). To this end, Thematic Meetings on labour migration, as well as on migration and development, with a particular focus on the role of diaspora, facilitated partners’ active engagement into a constructive dialogue on matters that have until 2019 remained unexplored in the framework of the Process. These meetings, co-hosted by Egypt and Portugal, and Eritrea and Switzerland, respectively, provided a platform for exploring new areas of policy development, bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and sharing of good practices. 

On 23rd – 24th of October 2019, the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (Khartoum Process) convened a thematic meeting on Migration for Development: Harnessing the Potential of Diaspora. The meeting was hosted and chaired by Eritrea and co-chaired by Switzerland.

The meeting has been attended by Khartoum Process partners representatives (Khartoum Process countries, the African Union Commission, the European Commission, the European External Action Service, IOM, UNHCR, GIZ), representatives of UNCDF, IFAD, AFFORD, World Bank / KNOMAD, and ADEPT, as well as relevant private sector representatives from MFS Africa and Homestrings.

The meeting aimed at exploring the topic of leveraging diaspora potential for development, starting from understanding, reaching out to and engaging with the diaspora, to providing an enabling environment to maximise diaspora capital, including remittances, skills, and knowledge, amongst other types of contributions. Discussions were structured along the following thematic pillars:

  1. Engaging the diaspora in their host countries: options for the countries of origin;
  2. Fostering an environment favourable to the engagement of diaspora in their country of origin;
  3. Remittances and investments: ways of maximising the impact of remittances.

On the 24th-25th of September 2019, Egypt, together with Portugal as co-chair, hosted the Khartoum Process Thematic Meeting on Legal Frameworks and Policy Development: Optimising the Benefits of Organised Labour Migration.

This meeting was organised in response to the expressed interest of the Khartoum Process membership to address the Joint Valletta Action Plan (JVAP) in its entirety, alongside the priorities charted in the Rome Declaration, with the corresponding focus on addressing the challenges of trafficking of human beings and smuggling of migrants.

As underlined in the Analysis Report of Khartoum Process prepared for the JVAP Senior Officials’ Meeting in Malta in February 2017, legal migration should be further strengthened by encouraging policies that promote regular channels for migration, whilst recognising that progress has been made in respect to specific references to increased opportunities for students and researchers.

Against this backdrop, this first Thematic Meeting on legal migration organised within the framework of the Khartoum Process was designed to take stock of the existing legal and policy instruments regulating labour migration in the region and to facilitate knowledge sharing amongst the partners. Additionally, it aimed to explore the operational side of the policies in place, to provide updates related to the existing legal frameworks, and contribute to a shared understanding of the related challenges and good practices amongst the participating states and organisations.

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