Egyptian Businesses for Peace Iftar Event International Organization of Migration (IOM) Speech
Speech of IOM Egypt Head of Office, Mr. Amr Taha
15 June 2017
“Excellences, distinguished guests, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I welcome the opportunity to address you tonight for the Egyptian Businesses for Peace Iftar Event. I represent the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Egypt, the UN Migration Agency.
Who is a migrant? IOM defines a migrant as any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a State away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of (1) the person’s legal status; (2) whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; (3) what the causes for the movement are; or (4) what the length of the stay is. By this definition almost everyone is a migrant at some stage in his or her life. Being a migrant is not something intrinsically bad: it is part of the history of humanity and migration allowed civilizations and states to grow and prosper. Nowadays migration is often mentioned as an obstacle to peace and the root cause of many of the issues faced by our society, as a consequence of mismanagement. If well managed, migration is in fact advantageous for migrants and for societies.
I would like to present you with a few examples. Egyptians remit around 20BN annually making Egypt amongst the top 10 countries in this category. But Egyptians have more than remittances to share with their country: they play a very important role for trade, business linkages, know-how, and much more. Egyptian remittances represent the largest source of revenue for the country as they exceed revenues from the tourism sector, Suez Canal, Foreign Direct Investment and Official Development Assistance combined.
On the other hand, the world is witnessing an era of unprecedented migration since the Second World War. While posing many challenges, it also creates new opportunities to address some of the structural imbalances that many countries are facing in terms of economic growth, demographics, and ensuring the stability of its neighbours. This must be used to establish sustainable mechanisms for managing migration in a mutually beneficial manner between Europe and its neighbours south of the Mediterranean.
But tonight’s keyword is peace. Migrants make essential contributions to the resilience of communities and societies worldwide. IOM supports strategies that promote the social, economic and cultural inclusion of migrants within existing legal frameworks in countries of destination to help migrants better integrate into new communities as well as assisting receiving communities to recognize the positive contributions that migrants can make. This two-way integration process is essential for the existence of thriving communities. Migrants who are successfully integrated have accumulated capital and acquired new knowledge and skills, and are often well-placed to contribute to the development of their countries of origin, including peace-building efforts.
IOM initiated the establishment of an Observatory for Human Mobility that compiles and analyses information on labour migration, training and educational mobility, as well as circular migration to provide reliable data and serve as a coordination hub to facilitate such policy development between countries across the Mediterranean. Factual information and analysis will help highlight the true contributions and impact of migration on individuals and societies.
IOM has been working with the private sector on many thematic areas. Successful partnerships can involve information exchanges on best practices, in-kind support, and direct financial support of projects. To give you a few examples: CHEVRON contributed to the IOM Angola’s Community Revitalization Programme to economically stabilize communities, facilitate the return and reintegration of refugees, and institute micro-finance projects. Starbucks and IOM Colombia worked together to help displaced, vulnerable and host communities in Colombia by providing them with access to education, food security and other activities to improve the quality of life and reduce forced migration. These are just two examples of the many partnerships with the private sector that have contributed to improve the lives of migrants.
IOM in Egypt is planning to contribute to the improvement of infrastructure of schools that both, migrant and Egyptian students attend and to enhance the skills of teachers in cooperation with the private sector. In addition we are planning support to enhance health care facilities to be able to provide primary health care services to Egyptian citizens and migrants, and to raise awareness of beneficiaries on preventive health care.
In order to do this even a small, symbolic contribution, be it financial or other kinds of support, can make a big difference. To you as representatives of the Egyptian private sector, I wish to express my appreciation for your presence here today and I look forward to a renewed cooperation in the near future”.