ILO, IGAD enhancing the capacity of labour attachés, consular officials to advance decent work & improve protection of migrant workers in the IGAD region

ILO and IGAD secretariat provided a five-day training for Labour Attachés and consular officials of IGAD member states, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda consulates in the middle east.

News | 30 November 2022

Labour Attachés and consular officials training in Addis Ababa ©ILO/Homa Ejeta

ILO News (Addis Ababa) – The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Addis Ababa partnering with Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to enhance the capacities of Labour Attachés and consular officials of IGAD countries based in the Middle East to advance decent work for migrant workers.

ILO and IGAD secretariat are providing a five-day training for Labour Attachés and consular officials of IGAD member states, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda consulates in the middle east.

This training focuses on labour migration dynamics and challenges, international normative and policy frameworks, and their role in addressing abusive and exploitative labour migration practices as well as providing much needed support to migrant workers and collaboration among countries of origin and destination.

Speaking at the opening session, ILO Country Director for the Horn of Africa Alexio Musindo said: “The training will enable labour attachés & consular officials to fulfil their roles and responsibilities of advancing decent work and enhancing protection of migrant workers based on acquired knowledge and skills".

Alexio Musindo addressing participants ©ILO/Homa Ejeta
“Middle East Countries have become important destinations for migrant workers from the IGAD region. It 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” highlighted the Director.
“While assuring the safety and well-being of migrant workers surely deserve greater attention and commitment, through coordinated efforts with all relevant bodies involved, equal emphasis should be given to the potential and actual benefits that could be obtained from well-governed labour migration by the origin and the receiving end likewise. In this regard, the role of labour attachés proves to be significant.” said Ethiopian Foreign State Minister, Ambassador Birtukan Ayano on her part.

Ambassador Birtukan Ayano ©ILO/Homa Ejeta

“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 Ambassador added.

“My government has initiated programs and established structures with the view to effectively mitigate 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.”

On behalf of the IGAD Executive Secretary, Madam Fathia Alwan, Director for Health and Social Development Directorate at IGAD Secretariat also addressed participants with a keynote. Madam Fathia said that, “migrant workers from the horn of Africa are increasingly seeking protection from the labour attachés assigned in the embassies, missions and consulates in the Middle East.”
Madam Fathia Alwan ©ILO/Homa Ejeta

“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.

The director 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.
Ministry of Labour and Skills, State Minister Nigusu Tilahun on his part said that since migration from Africa region to other regions particularly to the Middle East is growing, the role of labor attachés in the management of this migration flows and in the protection of migrant workers is becoming more crucial.
H.E Nigusu Tilahun ©ILO/Homa Ejeta

He said that high number of women, men and youth migrate to the Middle East where there is a notable increase in demand for the workers in the infrastructure, care, agriculture and hospitability sectors.

“You all are well aware of the challenges we face in the region to ensure full employment and decent works for all women and men in our countries. In this context, labour migration is an opportunity that could ease the situation, if well managed,” he underscored.

“We need to mutualize our efforts in countries of destination, especially in Middle East, through embassies and consulate representations to provide specific support to migrant workers from IGAD Member States”, he added.

Mrs. Sabrina Bazzanella ©ILO/Homa Ejeta

European Union representative in Ethiopia, Mrs. Sabrina Bazzanella addressing participants during the training said: “After this training, I am sure we will all have additional tools to put theory into practice. Labour attachés and embassy officials will be able to better protect the rights of migrant workers in the countries of destination. We should not underestimate the importance of this type of support, which will have a huge impact on the migratory experience of people.”

The European Union, due to its history and current experience is a strong believer in regional integration and sees free movement and labour mobility as catalysts for integration. Through this project we, therefore, also aim at supporting the adoption of the IGAD protocol on free movement of persons, which will (when in place) reinforce the regional integration and intra-region mobility, Mrs. Bazzanella added.

Guided by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (United Nations, 1961) and article 5 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (United Nations, 1963) many countries of origin are appointing labour attaches in countries of destination. Their role under labour migration processes mainly focuses on the welfare and protection, and decent working and living conditions of their nationals in the countries of destination.