Categorized | National News

PM: Immigration Issue Is A Global One

Prime Minister Perry Christie addressed delegates yesterday at the United Nations General Meeting at the session to address the large movements of refugees and migrants.

The prime minister stated that the issue of migration and refugees is a global phenomenon and it is vital that countries use sessions such as these to brainstorm and find ways to properly address this problem.


“The phenomenon of large movements of refugees and migrants has reached an unprecedented level of complexity and challenge. Global consensus on how to deal with this phenomenon has become a matter of the most urgent priority.


“The Bahamas therefore welcomes the efforts that are now underway to develop a common understanding and global consensus on how best to effectively address and manage the large movement of refugees and migrants. In this regard, I note with satisfaction the heightened sense of priority that is increasingly characterizing the global response to this problem.


“We recall that the World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul in May of this year, was the first summit of its kind. That was an important occasion for the further crystallization of our collective determination on this matter,” Mr. Christie said.


Mr. Christie highlighting The Bahamas’ own immigration issue, informing delegates that it is not always a negative situation and there are benefits that can arise from it.

“While discourse on migration tends to focus on the negative aspects of irregular migration, we in The Bahamas, because of our own historical experience with the large movement of migrants, are acutely mindful of the positive contributions that can sometimes flow out of this phenomenon.


“Indeed regular migration yields considerable benefits to both sending and receiving countries. Such benefits include: economic development, cultural cross-fertilization, and the promotion of state-to-state cooperation in the management of matters of common concern.


“At the same time, however, it is imperative that we move in earnest towards the development of a comprehensive approach to irregular migration, especially focusing on the underlying causes that motivate so many persons to resort to desperate and dangerous measures in search of better opportunities in other countries.


“The Bahamas, as both a transit and receiving country, continues to represent an unusual model for migratory movement and its impact. As a porous, archipelagic nation situated in close proximity to both source and destination countries, The Bahamas continues to experience large mixed migration from within, and outside, of the region.


“While our history clearly demonstrates, as I have already indicated, the value that can accrue from the many and varied contributions of documented migrants, we are still challenged by the disproportionately large and continual influx of undocumented migrants, the majority of whom arrive from regional source countries,” Mr. Christie said.


With the ongoing crisis in Syria that saw thousands of persons leave in a mass exodus seeking political asylum from various countries, Mr. Christie spoke about the strategies The Bahamas currently has in place to deal with this situation.


“While The Bahamas does receive a disproportionately high number of undocumented, non-asylum seeking migrants, our interdiction and immigration forces are cognizant that vulnerable persons may sometimes be included in migratory inflows.


“As relates to the specific protection and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in The Bahamas, the Bahamas Department of Immigration subscribes to the screening guidelines established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with a view to objectively determining whether the relevant persons are at risk of persecution in their country of origin. All interdicted migrants seeking asylum are interviewed by Immigration Officers trained by the UNHCR. Immigration officers receive ongoing sensitization training in this regard as well.


Moreover, the Government of The Bahamas and the UNHCR engage in regular dialogue. This enables national asylum assessments to be shared with the UNHCR and, where necessary, Advisory Opinions are requested,” Mr. Christie said


Other members of the Bahamian delegation include the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Shane Gibson, Minister of Labour and National Insurance and other senior Government officials. Joining the delegation will be Mr. Hubert Chipman, MP and Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mrs. Chipman. The Bahamas’ Ambassador to the UN is H.E. Elliston Rahming. UNGA 71 opened Tuesday, September 13, 2016 and is expected to conclude mid-December 2016. The annual General Debate will take place September 20-30, with the theme, “The Sustainable Development Goals: a Universal Push to Transform Our World.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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