Southern Africa is a region historically characterized by dynamic human mobility that contributes to countries’ economies and also livelihoods of communities. Even today, the interwoven solidarity and common vision among Southern African States continue to be the driving force towards regional integration and the overall socioeconomic development of the region. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is one of the development partners who have been operational in Southern Africa since the early 1990s; the Organization now has a solid regional footprint with presence in 15 SADC member States and continues to work closely with governments and various stakeholders on the multifaceted migration issues affecting the region.
Migration and human mobility have become the megatrend of the twenty-first century and one of the most topical and controversial issues of our time. With almost 250 million international migrants around the world, migrants constitute some 3 per cent of the world’s population, and all indications show that the phenomenon is most likely to be on the rise for decades to come.
Taking into consideration this reality, the approach of governments and the international community at large has evolved considerably over the last two decades when it comes to migration governance. As much as the issue remains an important aspect of national sovereignty, there is also a recognition that
effective migration governance and management requires a stronger international cooperation. There is also now a better analysis of the complex two-way relationship between migration and development – migration impacts development and vice versa – and better understanding that migration is a multisectoral and non-linear phenomenon that requires an integrated and holistic approach at all levels of governance. The inclusion of migration in the 2030 Development Agenda is the culmination of a decade-long process for the recognition of migration as an important element of development and a policy domain that is multidimensional in its essence. With the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and the subsequent development of the Global Compact for Migration, the international community has made a bold declaration by bringing migration at the heart of multilateralism, like a number of other sociopolitical issues that require the collective commitment of all stakeholders.
It is against this backdrop that the IOM Regional Office for Southern Africa developed this Regional Strategy, which will serve as a blueprint for IOM’s programming in the region until 2023. The strategy is inspired by the IOM philosophy that migration is not a problem to be solved but a human reality to be managed, and if well managed, could be beneficial to countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as the migrants and society as a whole. The intended results captured in this strategy can only be reached through the collective efforts of all concerned stakeholders. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Member States and various partners for their continuous support and collaboration through the years. IOM stands ready to work with all stakeholders towards building a world where migration is a choice and not an act of desperation.
Charles Allan Kwenin
IOM Regional Director for Southern Africa