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Tackling illegal migration pivotal: UK’s Director of Migration

James Sharp, UK’s Director of Migration at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said that it was important that source, transit and destination countries work together to tackle the problem of illegal migration. Sharp said this at a public lecture organized by the British Embassy and held at the Addis Abeba University Institute of Technology (Amist Kilo) campus on Tuesday 10th March.

The lecture focused on current issues associated with smuggling and trafficking from the Horn of Africa and the risks they pose on migrant lives.
“The number of young people from the Horn taking up dangerous ways with the help of illegal agents is staggeringly high and it is not showing signs of decreasing,” Sharp said.

According to a UNCHR report released on October of last year 165 000 illegal migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, have tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in the preceding nine months as compared to 60 000 in the whole of 2013. Meanwhile reports from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) show that the number of migrants arriving in Italy by sea has reached a total of 170 000 by year end of 2014. That is about four times as high as the number registered in 2013 when the Italian authorities recorded 42 925 arrivals. It also estimates that an unprecedented 3200 migrants have lost their lives in trying to reach Italy by sea.
In 2014 the leading sources of migration were Syria (42 323) and Eritrea (34 329).

“Currently Eritrea has overtaken Pakistan as the leading source country of migrants to the UK,” said Sharp, “however with the changing nature of global economy landscape, South-South migration is growing in prevalence as it is demonstrated by many Ethiopians migrating to the Arabian Peninsula.”

This surge of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to enter the European Union, often through Italy, Malta, and Greece is often triggered by political factors and migration dynamics in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (HoAMRI), known as the “Khartoum Process” was a political process specifically designed late last year to address this concern.

On 28th November 2014 on a Ministerial meeting held in Rome including the ministers from the 28 EU countries, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Egypt and Tunisia as well as the EU and AU Commissioners, the Khartoum Declaration was adopted and the Khartoum Process formally launched to tackle trafficking and smuggling of migrants between the Horn of Africa and Europe.

As the UK is an important member of the Khartoum process, “we would like to work with the government here in Ethiopia as well as the African Union,” said sharp.

In his two days stay in Ethiopia, Sharp met relevant government and AU officials.

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