Youth4Policy (Y4P) Migration Fellowship Programme. - Foundation Office Uganda and South Sudan
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From the 8th - 10th of July, we hosted the first cohort of our Youth4Policy (Y4P), migration fellowship. A programme that targets young people interested in conducting research and shape public policies on Migration and Forced Displacement. The 20 young professionals had the opportunity to participate in various lectures from different experts in the field. Along with insights from Agnes Igoye, Michael Mutyaba and Dr. Jimmy Spire Ssentengo, the participants in the Y4P program were able to discuss and exchange views on migration and forced displacement; and share the focus of their different research ideas and topics.
After all participants had arrived at the Nyange Resort and Marina on Friday evening, the weekend seminar started with a joint dinner hosted by Anna Reismann, our Country Representative. During a round of introductions, the fellows had the opportunity to get to know each other better, explain their motivation for participating in the programme and sharing their research ideas. Anna Reismann welcomed the fellows to the KAS family emphasizing that KAS is deeply invested in supporting platforms where young people come together to constructively engage and produce knowledge that can make a contribution towards strengthening democracy and governance in Uganda. “This is all very important because once fundamental questions of democratic governance are not addressed, then circumstances and conditions that produce emigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, shall continue to be deepened”, Anna stated.
The second day of the program began with a joint breakfast followed by a presentation on human trafficking and how to counter it by Agnes Igoye, the Deputy Chair of the National Prevention of Trafficking People in Uganda. Among other things, she explained who is being trafficked and by whom and what policy frameworks are in place to counter it. With personal stories of individual fates and her broad expertise and experience in the topic, she sensitized the participants and ensured a better understanding of human trafficking. “We must all be alive to the reality that human trafficking is real and it is being perpetrated by people we know. So we must all act collectively to counter it” Agnes noted.
During another session, Michael Mutyaba who is a social researcher gave an input on the global migration and forced versus voluntary migration. Among other things, he discussed who qualifies as a refugee, key articles of the Geneva Convention, recent trends of migration in Uganda and why people migrate in the first place. During the lecture, there were some group discussions, including the topics; freedom of choice, the framing of the words as refugee, global south and developing countries, pull and push factors of migration and the role of democracy and dictatorship in migration policies.
Mutyaba whose presentation also focused on some of the historical and global political economy aspects of migration advised the fellows to pay attention to labels given to people who are on the move either due to economic or political factors. For instance, he noted that, “decades ago someone moving from one society to another would be integrated & accepted as part of that society but today they are being labeled as either IDPs, refugees, or migrants’ means that the world is changing and we must be interested”.
The last day of the weekend seminar began with a presentation by Patricia Namakula, research analyst at the Centre for Multilateral Affairs (CfMA) and also Y4P Fellow on the governance frameworks for the regulation of refugees and migrants in Uganda. Her presentation questioned the sustainability of Uganda’s open door refugee policy which has been applauded worldwide as a successful practice for managing forcefully displacement persons.
The final lecture was given by Dr. Jimmy Spire Ssentengo who is a lecturer of philosophy at Uganda Martyrs and Makerere Universities, and a cartoonist. He advocated looking at the issue of migration from a philosophic point of view and thus showed the fellows a new perspective. He shared his personal family history and in particular addressed the question of who migrates from Uganda and where do they migrate to. He put a special focus on Uganda's young population and the labor market. He further addressed the profiteers from labor export business and discussed with the participants whether labor exportation should be tamed; the reason for migration, and consequences for Uganda if a lot of young people emigrate as it is happening with the ongoing flight of young Uganda women to the Middle East and Arab countries. The exchange with the fellows on this subject concluded that employment opportunities that satisfy the aspirations of young Ugandans must be created through deliberate government policies otherwise nothing shall stop the massive flight of the country’s youth with dangerous future implications.
On his part, Ojok Okello, the Migration Programme Manager at KAS and convener of the Y4P Migration Fellowship Programme advised the fellows to have focused research topics with clear research questions. The emphasis on research stems from the fact that the key deliverable expected from each of the Y4P Migration Fellow is a research paper which provides concrete analysis and key policy recommendations to improve migration and forced displacement challenges in Uganda.