The project officer protocols on free movement of persons and transhumance at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Ms Lucy Daxbacher has said phasing out of Visas will promote free movement of citizens across member state countries.
“Member states are working towards the abolishing of visas by 2028 so that citizens of member states can enter their countries without a need for a Visa but will rather only required to get a stamp upon arrival in another country” she said.
Ms Daxbacher made the remarks during a meeting to discuss the roadmap for implementation of the protocol on free movement of persons in the IGAD region held in Entebbe.
Ms Daxbacher said the protocol observes the right of entry, stay and exit which is evidenced by a drive towards a visa free region, a fundamental step being taken up by member states.
“The IGAD region is one of the most closed regions in Africa whereby one is required to have a visa to go to a majority of the eight countries, the free movement regime I benefit from is not the IGAD regime so IGAD region needs to open up there is need to establish a regime of free movement of goods and services” she said.
Ms Daxbacher said the protocol will help in facilitating 270 million people in the IGAD region in having alternative means of livelihoods, support and protection.
“We need possibilities for citizens of IGAD member states to access resources, employment opportunities, basic health care services and education among others. There is need for immediate establishment of a regime of free movement of people in the region which will be beneficial to access to basic services for people across the border” She said.
Ms Daxbacher said the aim of the action is to enhance regular and orderly cross-border mobility and migration, regional economic integration and development across member states.
Dr. Harriet Nabukwasi, a surveillance Expert on COVID-19 at IGAD secretariat, expressed worry on the surging cases of Corona virus among the eight member states where over 4300 deaths have been recorded in IGAD region.
“The pandemic struck us very early but by March IGAD heads of state held an extraordinary summit to discuss the regional response towards Covid 19, they tasked the secretary to convene the meeting of ministers of health and finance” she said.
Ms Nabukwasi said the IGAD member states together with the European Union established a 60 million euro (Shs 263 bn) fund to respond to Covid 19 in the region.
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