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South Sudan set to establish Migrants Centre in Juba

By Charles K Mark

International Labour Organisation (ILO) has signed an implementation agreement with the Ministry of Labour (MoL) to establish the first Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) in Juba.

According to ILO Chief Technical Advisor (CTA), Aida Awel, the Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) programme aims at providing accurate information and timely support to potential migrants, returnees, and their families, fostering informed decision-making.

She said the milestone is part of the ongoing implementation of the ILO Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) Programme in the East and Horn of Africa.

“South Sudan plays a significant role in international labor migration, serving as a source, transit, and destination country,” Awel said.

The number of migrant workers in South Sudan has notably increased, with the United Nations estimating approximately 882,000 migrants, mainly from Sudan, Uganda, the DRC, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

ILO revealed that despite challenges in issuing work permits and a prevalence of informal employment, migration has become a major contributor to the country’s GDP, receiving remittances that reached US$ 211 million in 2019, accounting for 6.7% of the GDP.

South Sudan currently faces challenges such as irregular migration, a lack of awareness, and unethical recruitment practices, especially among low-skilled workers.

With an increasing number of South Sudanese workers exploring opportunities overseas, notably in the Gulf nations, addressing issues such as recruitment fees, deceptive recruitment practices, and irregular migration becomes crucial.

The International Labor Organization thinks the high vulnerability of migrant workers in South Sudan is exacerbated by limited access to information and support services, forcing them to rely on brokers and acquaintances.

Thus, the organization sought to address such challenges through the establishment of a Migrant Resource Centre (MRC).

Madam Awel explained the MRC would be an essential hub, providing comprehensive assistance such as information on regular migration, skills training, referrals, and protection of migrant workers.

“ILO, in partnership with the Government of South Sudan, aims to empower migrants and potential and returned migrant workers, ensuring they have easy access to information throughout the migration cycle and promoting regular, orderly, and safe migration practices,” she said.

The Migrant Resource Centre will also serve as a focal point for potential migrants, returnees, migrant workers in South Sudan, families of migrant workers, and the community at large.

“Beneficiaries will be able to obtain accurate information and counselling on safe, regular, and orderly migration and rights at work,” she added.

The Undersecretary of the Labour Ministry, Mary Hilary Wani, signed the agreement on behalf of the Minister, while Madam Aida Awel, Technical Advisor for ILO, represented the organization.

“We have signed today the implementation agreement for the establishment of the Migrants Resource Centre, and we have identified a place in the multi-service training center (MTC),” Madam Wani noted.

The Undersecretary said the place will be renovated and equipped to provide the services that are needed by the migrants here in South Sudan.

“We know that, by virtue of its position in the center of Africa and in the region of East Africa, South Sudan is attracting a lot of migrant workers. It is both a place of origin, transit, and destination for the migrant workers,” she said.

Once established, the center will provide the most needed information for migrant workers, such as entry requirements, among other necessities.

“What is it that they have to comply with? What are the rules and regulations guiding the migrant workers here in South Sudan?” The undersecretary stated.

Mrs. Wani expressed concerns about the safety of the migrant workers and urged that the center furnish and provide necessary information for legal entries into South Sudan.

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