National Assembly Speaker Professor Peter Katjavivi has urged African states to be vigilant and proactive to ensure that the continent is ready to tackle any migrant crisis, as is currently being experienced in Europe.
He said this when he briefed members of the media about the recently-concluded Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly that took place in Switzerland from October 17 to 22, where the topic of migration took centre stage.
“There is a perception that migrants are mostly from Africa but that is not the case. The migration we are witnessing is a reflection of what is happening in the countries from which the migrants flee,” he said.
Parliamentarians from 137 countries at the assembly specially focused on parliamentary action on the challenging and often divisive issue of migration. Official figures show that there are at least 60 million migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the world today.
“Just because it does not affect us on a large scale, it does not mean we must sit back and relax. Today it is happening in Europe and tomorrow it can happen somewhere else,” he said.
Katjavivi said global lawmakers focused on identifying parliamentary action to mitigate the global migration and refugee crisis.
“Rising xenophobia combined with the ongoing impact of the global economic crisis continue to be at odds with the reality of regional demographics, skills shortages and an increasingly mobile workforce when defining national policies of migration,” said the Speaker.
Katjavivi stressed the need for a strategy that would help to handle large flows of asylum seekers and to ensure their protection.
He also indicated that governments have been urged to take special measures to address specific needs of women, girls and young refugees as well as to protect them from human trafficking.
Female migrants are said to be most at risk seeing that they are exposed to human trafficking, abuse, exploitation, discrimination and gender-based violence. Some affected European states have even gone as far as crafting anti-migration policies, with several countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary closing their borders to stem the influx of migrants.
IPU lawmakers also called on countries to promote safe and regular channels for migration, including legal entry and residence schemes for study, work and humanitarian and family reunion purposes. Others called for increased monitoring coordination among states in the areas of migration and asylum through bilateral, regional and international procedures.
The Namibian delegation, led by Katjavivi, consisted of deputy chairperson of the National Council Margaret Mensah-Williams, Barakias Namwandi, Ignatius Shixwameni, Bernadette Jagger, Rosalia Shilenga, Ambrosius Kandjii and Barakias Namwandi. Two former members of the Children’s Parliament also went along.