The Government of Jamaica now has a migration profile of the country, which can be used to inform policy development and planning.
The profile titled ‘Migration in Jamaica: A country profile 2010’, is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, and was launched by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Funding and technical support came from the European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Addressing the launch on September 4 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, Acting Director of Social Policy, Planning and Research Division, PIOJ, Easton Williams, said Jamaica’s migration profile is among 70 others prepared globally under the guidance of the IOM.
It includes components relevant to the labour market, human capital, remittances, family well-being, the Diaspora, and human rights. He said its completion is the first step towards developing a National Policy and Plan of Action on International Migration and Development.
"The migration profile is integrally linked to Vision 2030, Jamaica National Development Plan, as it will provide data and analysis to help us to navigate the road map towards making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business," he stated.
IOM Regional Director, North America, Central America and the Caribbean, Robert Paiva, said that Jamaica was chosen as one of four pilot countries in the region for the development of a migration profile, due to the island’s firsthand experiences of how migration can affect a country in both negative and positive ways.
"The Jamaican government has shown leadership and strong political will to act and to address the issues that this raises by starting to design and implement an evidence-based migration policy, which maximises the benefits of migration while addressing its challenges…we are pleased that this profile can contribute to the process and pleased that it comes as Jamaica celebrates its 50th anniversary,” he stated.
Mr. Paiva noted that in the last decade, migration has moved higher on the agendas of government worldwide based on the realisation that migration and development can influence each other. He stated that the development of migration profiles will provide policy makers with the tools to understand migration and development and to develop appropriately tailored policy.
"With the current estimate of some 214 million migrants globally, and rising, the realisation among governments that migration is a force affecting countries everywhere, in both positive and negative ways, has gotten increasing attention. Policies are therefore needed to address the problems of migration while harnessing the benefits,” Mr. Paiva stated.
Ambassador Paul Robotham, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, welcomed the profile. He said that the management of international migration is an important element of Jamaica’s development strategy and forms a part of the Ministry’s foreign policy thrust.
He said the profile is expected to assist migration governance and Jamaica's broader developmental agenda including issues such as poverty reduction, environment, and labour market regulations and employment policies.
Professor Elizabeth Thomas Hope, who is one of the authors of the migration profile, said that there "are critical aspects of our own societal environment that are both cause and consequence of migration that need to be identified and managed within the context of development”.
"We need to understand the complexities of migration, those aspects that relate to structural factors, the culture of migration, perception and the discourses that construct and perpetuate perceptions," she stated.
A slide showing migration through the decades revealed that the 1970s had the highest numbers of persons, over 300,000 leaving the country. The United States and the United Kingdom received the largest number of Jamaican migrants. These two countries also account for the highest level of remittances followed by the Cayman Islands and Canada.
The PIOJ will conduct a series of national and sectoral consultations on the migration policy later this month in four regions, Kingston, Manchester, St. Ann and St. James.