Abrahams: Talks needed on managed Caribbean migration
Caricom member states have been challenged to hold frank discussions on managed migration to support each other’s developmental priorities.
Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams threw out the challenge when he addressed a two-day workshop on “Migration and Migration Policy in the Caribbean” on Thursday at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.
The minister said while Barbados was identified as the most densely populated country in the region, Suriname, Guyana, Belize, The Bahamas and Dominica were recorded as being the least densely populated.
“A frank discussion on how to manage migration can support those economies whose growth rate is exponential must be held in this region,” he said. “No one should be left behind.”
Abrahams added that the region needed to consider the need for a regional population census to ensure adequate and appropriate resources to advance the Caricom Single Market and Economy.
Failing that, the minister suggested having a harmonised approach to collecting, collating and sharing national data must be developed, so the necessary analysis can be undertaken.
Abrahams noted that Barbados was presently undertaking a national population census to confirm as far as possible the actual number of people living in the island.
“Recognising there are opportunities in Barbados, Caricom and third countries, this census is critical as the government seeks to position our nationals and all other persons ordinarily resident in Barbados to take advantage of these opportunities,” he said. “Knowledge of the skills and capabilities of our people is critical.”
Highlighting the shortages of food supplies and transportation options resulting from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the minister said Caricom was moving in the right direction in seeking greater self-sufficiency in the supply of agri-processed foods.
But, Abrahams lamented, there were not enough people in the majority of countries to drive the food and production security agenda of the regional integration group.
“I challenge you to explore how managed migration can ensure that these security needs are met,” he said. “As a collective, Caricom has perfected the area of functional cooperation…
“It is time to consolidate our efforts in areas of trade, investment and business. Each country has a comparative advantage and this must be recognised… Member states must work together.”
The ministers advised that the focus could no longer be solely inward, but must address planning for successful outward migration.
Abrahams also challenged those present to explore how migration policy and strategy could support the efforts.
The minister described the workshop as timely, noting that a number of Caribbean countries were critically examining matters of migration.
The workshop was organised by Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Caricom Secretariat in partnership with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and through funding from the United States Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.