Burundian Delegation in Benchmarking Talks with Kenya on Labour Migration and Ethical Recruitment

Photo: © IOM 2021/ Janet Adongo

Delegates representing the Governments of the Republic of Kenya and Republic of Burundi, will this week sit together at the International Office for Migration’s (IOM) Regional office in Nairobi, as they share experiences and exchange ideas on how they can cooperate in sharing knowledge, good practices, and challenges when dealing with the protection of their migrant workers’ rights.

The general objective of this benchmarking visit is to enable the sharing of knowhow, lessons learned and good practices through bilateral dialogue between the two countries on Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs), ethical recruitment, international migration law and migrant workers’ and members of their families’ rights, licensing, inspection of private recruitment agencies and consular cooperation.

Tharcisse Tumukunde, the  Advisor to the Directorate for the Promotion of the Employment of Migrants at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation in Burundi acknowledges that while migrant workers contribute to the growth and development of their countries of destination and origin, the migration process involves complex challenges in terms of governance, protection of migrant workers’ rights, links between migration and development, and cooperation at the national, regional and international levels.

“The Government of the Republic of Burundi is aware of the benefits of migration but also hard-pressed to meet the challenges that arise therein. We are working to regulate this movement of labour through a legally binding framework with the countries of destination, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of the Sultanate of Oman for the interest of both the migrants and employers.”

This meeting is organized within the cooperation framework of the Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM), addressing the Forum’s first objective that defines how members’ governments should draft, negotiate and sign BLMAs, taking international frameworks into consideration and advising member countries to team up for a more robust regional intervention.

IOM’s Senior Regional Specialist for Labour Mobility and Human Development Tatiana Hadjimmanuel explains how the benchmarking exercise aims to support the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Employment in Burundi in formulating policy, legal and institutional frameworks necessary to ensure the long-term protection of migrant workers and guarantee good governance of labour migration.

“Both IOM and the RMFM Chair, Government of Kenya, support RMFM Member States in the region to better protect migrant workers’ and their families’ rights. We are working with both countries of origin and countries of destination to ensure safe, orderly, and humane labour migration - on a whole of government/whole of society approach - so that no one is left behind. Regional integration creates opportunities as well as challenges in labour migration management, mobility, integration, and social cohesion. Therefore, regional cooperation and collective action are essential to synchronize and synergize on international and regional issues of labor migration”

The RMFM on Harmonizing Labour Migration Policies in East and Horn of Africa: A United Approach on Safe, Regular and Humane Labour Migration was established in January 2020 to strengthen labour migration governance through regional common approaches and social dialogue in the formulation and implementation of evidence-based, human rights and gender-sensitive harmonized labour migration policies.

Kenya’s Minister for Labour Honorable Simon Chelugui currently chairs the RMFM. The Ministry’s Director for Labour Winnie Karingithi emphasized the hosts appreciation for the presence of their Burundian counterparts, while highlighting that both countries have the same issues when it comes to labour migration and protection of migrant workers’ rights, and how the RMFM is working to resolve some of them.

“The primary objective of the RMFM is bilateral and multilateral labour agreements, by establishing institutional and cross-border mechanisms that support labour migrants when they migrate. The bottom-line is the protection of our citizens who are travelling not just to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries but wherever else they migrate to in the world.”

The Forum brings together two Regional Economic Communities (RECs) - the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the East African Community (EAC) as well. The RMFM objectives align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably target 8.8 of SDG 8 on promoting economic growth, employment, and decent work, target 10.7 of SDG 10 on the protection of labour rights and promotion of safe working environments for all workers as well as Objectives 6 and 23 of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) that refer to fair and ethical recruitment and strengthening international cooperation respectively.

This meeting is supported by Foreign Commonwealth Development Office as part of the IOM/UN Migration Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) on Labour Mobility and Regional Integration for Safe, Orderly and Humane Labour Migration in East and Horn of Africa: East Africa Migration Management.


SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities