UN Migration Agency Director General Commends South Africa’s Progressive Approach to Migration

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, Integrated Border Management

South Africa - IOM, the UN Migration Agency’s Director General, William Lacy Swing arrived in South Africa on 20 April, for a two-day visit during which he met with ministers, donors and colleagues from United Nations agencies in South Africa.

On Thursday morning (20/04), Ambassador Swing met with the Minister of Home Affairs, Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize, to discuss IOM’s support to South Africa’s Border Management Authority, migration data management, collaboration on Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR), regional cooperation on issues related to migration, including the recent White Paper on International Migration for South Africa.

“South Africa’s White Paper is very progressive and sets an example for a comprehensive approach to migration, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Migration Governance Framework adopted by IOM Member States in 2015 and of which South Africa is part,” Ambassador Swing said.

The White Paper acknowledges that migration has an impact on most sectors of government and society and therefore needs to be managed from what IOM terms both “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” perspectives that encourage South Africans to embrace international migration as a tool for development while also safe-guarding the nation’s sovereignty, peace  and security.

In addition, Ambassador Swing emphasized that the labour market remains a driving force behind both regular and irregular migration to South Africa.

“There are tremendous opportunities associated with coherent labour migration management,” Ambassador Swing said. “So it’s encouraging to see that the White Paper emphasises the need to attract highly qualified and skilled migrants to increase South Africa’s international competitiveness for critical skills and investment.”  

The UN Migration Agency has been working with Member States of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to support the implementation of key recommendations emanating from the SADC Labour Migration Action Plan, which was adopted in 2013. Through its regional labour migration programme, Developing a Roadmap to Facilitate South-South Labour Mobility in Southern Africa, IOM has supported Member States to formalize intra-regional migration schemes that strengthen the protection of the rights of migrant workers while promoting regional integration.

Ambassador Swing began his final day in Pretoria with a breakfast meeting with the UN Country Team, which includes all heads of UN agencies in South Africa. Later in the day, he met with the Deputy Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Luwellyn Landers, and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Lemias Mashile.

In his meeting with Deputy Minister Landers, Ambassador Swing touched on the bold commitments made by the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and encouraged South Africa to participate in national and regional consultations to enrich the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

Global consultations are underway for the Global Compact, with the aim of it being adopted in 2018, and which offers a major opportunity to improve governance of migration, address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.

During his meeting with Mashile, Ambassador Swing took the opportunity to inform the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs about IOM’s approach to AVRR and its newly launched regional project funded by the European Union. “This project offers an unprecedented opportunity for South Africa to work with IOM to promote a more humane and cost-effective way to manage the return and reintegration of migrants,” said Ambassador Swing.

For further information, please contact, Chiara Frisone, IOM Regional Office in Pretoria, Tel: +27 (0)79 520 4696, Email: cfrisone@iom.int


IOM  Director General William Lacy Swing during his visit in South Africa where he met with ministers, donors and colleagues from United Nations agencies. Photo: IOM