Migrant Voice Roundtable Event

Migrant Voice organised a Roundtable Event on Tuesday 6 February 2024, for Migration Week 2024.

This is part of Migrant Voice efforts to advance the agenda for a migration system that respects the dignity of all people. It stems from the conviction that the system should adhere to the UK’s commitment on the global stage. It is also an attempt to advance the discussion on migration beyond the hostile narrative that is presented by the current government.

The panel consisted of speakers who are closely involved with, or have first-hand experience of migration. The event was chaired by Migrant Voice Director, Nazek Ramadan, who introduced the event and the importance of tapping into global discussion to address current UK policies and rhetoric around migration. Nazek noted that discussions with a global dimension help us understand the  discrepancy between the UK’s global commitments and the policies pursued at home. Nazek shared regarding the engagement of Migrant Voice, alongside other civil society organisations, with the process of the Global Compact, bringing the voices and experiences of migrants.

Nazek then invited the speakers to present their valued contributions:

Our panel of speakers included: Michele LeVoy, director of PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants). Michele spoke about the history of the Global Compact for Migration, the involvement of civil society organisations in shaping its text and the role that civil societies can play in advancing the implementation agenda.

Professor Nando of the University of Birmingham, discussed UK’s post brexit migration regime, the different trends within it and the appropriateness of the government of certain concepts like ‘safe and regular route’ by creating schemes which undermine the spirit of the legal system.

 Dr. Peter Walsh, from the The Migration Observatory, and Departmental Lecturer in Migration Studies, University of Oxford addressed the current development in the migration system which has become more restrictive in nature. He also addressed the factors that drive people’s movement and decisions for settlement choices.

Dr Helia López Zarzosa, Sociologist, independent researcher, human rights advocate and guest lecturer. Former refugee from Chile. Organiser of educational and drama schools for refugees and migrant families and Chilean returnee children, focused on contextualising the history of migration in the UK, and the varied historical and current responses. She provided an analysis regarding the use of a militarised language  and the attitudes throughout history.

Dickson Tarnongo, Development Practitioner and social activist, with special interest in disability rights.

Mr Tarnongo  addressed the UK asylum system and its impact on people’s lives, both in a positive manner, as a source of protection, and the negative  side which could harm people and ruin lives.

Keziah GitongaSocial justice activist and a Migrant Voice visa fees campaign steering group member, shared her experience interacting with the Home Office as an advocate for a fairer immigration system. She addressed the racist nature of the system and the intentional approach to create a system that does not work.

Sofi Taylor is a Trustee of Migrant Voice and the Human Rights Consortium for Scotland. She highlighted the global nature of the migrant population and their contribution in the different industries around the world. She explored the exploitation that migrants face by recruitment agencies, employers, and governments, drawing on some examples from her work throughout the years.

The recommendations included:

  • building alliances,
  • civil society organisations acting as watchdogs and pushing for the implementation of the Global Compact agenda,
  • continue to work on the ground,
  • civil society acting as agents of legal challenges,
  • working towards depolarisation and changing the narrative in the media,
  • highlighting the contribution of migrants in our community, and
  • education about migration.

Although the speakers addressed different topics and challenges, there was a consensual vision for a better and fairer migration system, which can be achieved by working together, building networks and creating alliances

Full recording for the event can be accessed through this link