A section of the audience at the event.
WILLEMSTAD–Curaçao’s Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath says Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten should continue to work together to find solutions for some of the common challenges within the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom as it relates to migration.
He made the comments during the joint symposium on migration convened under the auspices of the Social Economic Councils (SERs) of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten held at Avila Beach Hotel in Curaçao on May 9 and 10.
Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes and St. Maarten Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin agreed that the symposium was held at the right time: a time when the number of international migrants is higher than ever before, SER St. Maarten said in a press release on Thursday.
From the US-Mexico border and the ongoing Venezuela exodus, the current mass movement of people seeking a safer and more prosperous home is making headlines across the world. St. Maarten is no stranger to migration as the number of immigrant arrivals has increased over the years, SER said in its release. Many of the migrants are dealing with great economic hardship in their respective countries.
The issue of whether migration is economically beneficial can quickly become an emotional discussion at times in our community.
Keynote speakers were representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), United Nations High Commissioner Refugee (UNHCR), Canadian Embassy in Bogota, University of Curaçao, University of St. Martin and the Think To DO Institute of Curaçao.
USM Antonio Carmona Báez presented a review of current border issues, demographics and migratory patterns as it relates to the hybrid systems of higher education and accreditation across the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Special attention was given to the case of St. Maarten and its peculiar bond to other English-speaking islands within the Kingdom, as well as with its largely migrant-based student body, which allowed participants to consider how education policies may impact the future of socio-economic development in the region.
During the presentations and discussions, topics such as: human mobility, economics, work, employment, integration, insecurity, diversity and minorities, as well as culture, the legal and political aspects, were recurring highlights. Participants were also given the opportunity to sign up online and participate in a survey. The purpose of the survey was for the participants to express their views on migrants. The results of the online survey propelled interesting discussions.
On the second day, the symposium centred around the Caribbean perspective on effective migration policies. Short presentations were given by various speakers followed by breakout sessions where it was discussed how all three islands can best govern migration to enhance sustainable socioeconomic development.
The topics of the five breakout sessions were: “Reaping the benefits and minimizing the cost of migration;” ‘Migration is a tool to safeguard the socioeconomic model of the Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten (ACS)-countries: migration approaches revisited;” “Brain drain and brain gain: a matter of reversing the coin?;” “Changing the narrative on migrants” and “Informal and formal labour market approaches: towards win-win- approaches.”
Prior to the conclusion of the symposium, a panel discussion took place, during which different stakeholders were given the opportunity to share their views on the social economic challenges and potential benefits of migration. It was agreed that migrants have contributed to the cultural diversity, the economic and social development of the three countries.
In addition, migration once managed properly, can be seen as a catalyst contributing factor to sustainable development of countries. The Prime Ministers of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten welcomed this platform to pursue the development and implementation of a migration policy based on each country’s own migration realities and capacities, providing that safety, dignity and human rights are protected at all times. The SER of St. Maarten will present its findings in a report which will be presented to Romeo-Marlin, Chairperson of Parliament and relevant stakeholders.