The movement of people across borders is an important feature of today’s globalized world. Since 1965, the number of international migrants has doubled, the total number estimated to be 175 million. Thus, approximately 2.9 per cent of the world's population is international migrants. In East Africa, it – human mobility – is a complex process. There are all kinds of population movements from and between East African countries: labour migrants (both skilled and unskilled), refugee flows, tourists, students, permanent emigrants, victims of human trafficking etc. Migration is a process; it begins with the reason for migrating (the push and pull factors), through the various stages of movement (either by regular or irregular means, and either facilitated or spontaneous). Along this ‘movement path’, there are also emerging factors involved such as health (both public and individual).
Migration occupies a very central place in the regional integration process. In order to realize the core objectives of the East African Common Market Protocol-free, safe and orderly movement of persons-migration has to be managed in the right way. Migration is also intrinsically tied to migration challenges such as irregular migration, human smuggling and human trafficking and other cross border crimes like car theft, armed robberies and fugitives of law.
At the same time migration across border provide opportunities such as increased legal labor migration which has a positive impact on remittances, transfer of technology and increased cross border trade which benefit both the receiving and sending countries. To that end migration has to be managed in a manner that reduces the negative effects and maximizes on the positive aspects.
As a process therefore, it comprises stages, actors, policy considerations, stakeholders/partnerships and several other post-migration elements. In order to maximize the development potential of migration, a planned, organized and coordinated approach to the management of migration is necessary.