By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua)
-- East Africa’s bloc, the
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) seeks to
achieve free movement of persons, goods and services among the
seven member states before the end of this year, officials said
Speaking during a
national consultative meeting about the IGAD Protocol on free
movement of persons in the region, Abdelrahim Ahmed Khalil,
Head of IGAD Liaison Office in South Sudan, said the regional
bloc has embarked on consultations with all member states to
ensure that the protocol is agreed upon before the end the year.
Khalil said the
meeting seeks to gather information on benefits and barriers to
free movement of persons in the IGAD region and also generate
recommendations from the nine member countries towards
accomplishment of a protocol that guarantees free movement in
“We have already
held consultative meetings for Uganda, now we are in South Sudan
and next time we are going to other countries; Ethiopia, Sudan,
and Kenya, all these will be finalized hopefully before the end
of this year and we have the Protocol consulted and agreed,”
The Protocol on Free
Movement of Persons is aimed at promoting the regularization of
the high volume of informal movement that currently takes place
in the IGAD region, and is to increase the opportunities for
Khalil said IGAD has
been engaged in seeking ways to strengthen regional cooperation
and free movement of persons, goods and services for the last 30
He added that once
completed, it would promote mobility of people, trade and
employment opportunities for citizens of the IGAD countries.
“We hope that with
this protocol, people will have that opportunity to move freely,
from country to country, to own property and to engage in other
activities.” Khalil added.
Article 7 of the
agreement establishing IGAD, demands member States to promote
free movement of goods, services, and persons as well as the
establishment of residence.
Stefano De Leo, Head
of the European Union (EU) Delegation in South Sudan hailed the
proposed protocol as an important tool in strengthening regional
cooperation, realization of peace and development of countries.
“The biggest benefit
of free movement is peace, is leaving instability, is sharing
and harmonizing what we all need for prosperity and this is only
possible if you put your forces together and you make your
people understand that they are citizens not only of your
country but citizens of the wider IGAD area,” the EU envoy said.
Chief of Mission of the UN migration agency, International
Organization for Migration (IOM) in South Sudan said the
protocol comes at an opportune time when the region is faced
with numerous migration crises such as the South Sudan conflict,
which has displaced over 2 million people.
Barriga added that
the proposed protocol upon completion will ensure that the
rights of migrants are protected by facilitating integration
into host countries through harmonization and domestication of
articles in national legislations.
consistently shown that migration benefits all especially if
it’s, orderly and dignified,” Barriga said.
He urged IGAD
leaders to embrace implementation of the protocol to ease legal
migration in the region.
“Migration is not
like water in the tap that you can open and close, but is like
water in the river that will seek its own way when you block it.
You close the front, people will use the back door, and the back
door is always bad, cold, and dangerous and where human rights
are violated,” he added.
Riaw Gatlier Gai,
South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Interior said the protocol is
beneficial to the young nation, but they still want to
scrutinize it before accession because South Sudan is concerned
with the high illiteracy rates among its population that could
create labor imbalance.