G20 thinkers consider migration issues and youth unemployment in the COVID-19 era

G20 thinkers consider migration issues and youth unemployment in the COVID-19 era
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Updated 20 October 2020

G20 thinkers consider migration issues and youth unemployment in the COVID-19 era

G20 thinkers consider migration issues and youth unemployment in the COVID-19 era
  • Think 20 engagement group discusses the challenges facing migrants, and ways in which they might be overcome

JEDDAH: Members of the G20’s Think 20 (T20) engagement group on Tuesday discussed migration, ways to tackle youth unemployment, and how innovative policies and programs to encourage cross-generational engagement might be developed.

The webinar for the T20’s Task Force 9 on Migration and Young Societies was hosted in cooperation with Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies. The participants included representatives of research centers, government bodies and civil-society organizations.

The event featured two panel discussions that focused on the ways in which migration might shape the future, and how new digital platforms will affect the experiences of migrants, women and children.

During her opening speech, Princess Maha bint Mishari, the lead co-chair of the task force, emphasized the severity of the demographic challenges faced by societies and migrants, and the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on “already vulnerable” groups. She said the challenges facing young people, women and migrants have been heightened by economic and educational shutdowns, closed borders and lack of healthcare infrastructure in many places.

She also noted that under King Salman, Saudi Arabia has made remarkable and unprecedented progress on many levels, politically, socially, economically and developmentally.

“These achievements are the pillars of the Vision 2030 reform program, (and show) that the Saudi leadership is committed to its pledge to build a state for the future and consolidate its position in the G20,” she said.

Paolo Magri, the executive vice president and director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, said that efforts to address migration issues require a multilateral approach involving countries of origin, transit and destination.

“This is especially true in light of the rising disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “On migration, the pandemic has been a source of disruption in migration channels, the international agenda and capacity. These three major disruptions might endanger the prospects of improving migration governance.”

Amal El-Ouassif, a specialist in international relations at the Policy Center for the New South, discussed trends in African migration, changes caused by the pandemic, and the lessons that can be learned from experiences during the health crisis.

“It is important to understand what we expect in the near future,” she said. “Intro-African migration will predominantly remain within the continent, as 80 percent of migration happens within the continent.”

She added that G20 countries have a vested interest in African migration issues because much of the migration in Africa is to countries that are G20 members.

Fahad Al-Sharif, a senior research fellow at King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, highlighted some of the factors that have affected global migration over time, including early movements of humans, the two world wars, and now the pandemic.

“Many types of migrations have emerged through time, depending on the geographic, socioeconomic and push-and-pull factors,” he said. “For example, forced migrations caused by civil wars, natural disasters and ethic cleansing, among many other things.”

He also discussed legal and seasonal migrations, as well as undocumented migrants and issue of migration during the pandemic.

“Countries should deliver policies in support of irregular migrants,” Al-Sharif said. “Even though COVID-19 proved our unpreparedness and vulnerability, it also created a new opportunity for us, as individuals and countries, to engage in finding new, creative, compassionate and usable policies to face the future.”

He also offered some recommendations for ways in which the needs of undocumented migrants can be better addressed in the COVID-19 era.

“We should increase trust between these communities and health authorities,” he said. “We also need to assure communities that their members will not face any punishment.

“We also have to implement a system that allows undocumented migrants to call emergency services without the threat of retaliation. Moreover, we need to develop more robust and long-term cooperation with foreign embassies to facilitate the identification of undocumented migrants and their presence in their countries.”

The webinar concluded with a speech by Ziad Eyadat, the director of the Center for Strategic Studies, and closing remarks by Fahad Al-Turki, chair of the T20.

Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of the G20 this year and the group’s annual summit is due to be held in Riyadh in November. The T20, a network of think tanks and researchers, is one of several independent G20 engagement groups led by organizations from the host country. They focus on different sections and sectors of society and work to develop policy recommendations that will be presented to G20 leaders for consideration.

The Migration and Young Societies task force focuses on finding ways to develop skills and opportunities among young people, and encourage macroeconomic and microeconomic policies that address high youth unemployment, demographic changes, economic growth and the reform of social systems.

It is one of 11 T20 task forces working to develop research and policy recommendations on issues such as economic development, climate change, women and youth, technology and innovation, multilateralism, financing, food security, access to water, and methods of solving complex problems. They operate under the presidency of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, and King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

Iran still a destabilizing influence in Middle East, Saudi Arabia committed to regional peace: Prince Faisal

Updated 05 December 2020

Iran still a destabilizing influence in Middle East, Saudi Arabia committed to regional peace: Prince Faisal

Iran still a destabilizing influence in Middle East, Saudi Arabia committed to regional peace: Prince Faisal
  • ‘Region has been unstable for some time and main source is Iran,’ FM
  • Faisal bin Farhan says Kingdom has always been in favor, supports US-Iran dialogue

RIYADH: Iran continues to fund terrorist militias to incite violence in the region, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday.
“The region has been unstable for some time and the main source of that instability is Iran and Iran’s continuing activity in the region and its continuing focus on exporting its revolution on making sure that it continues to be able to manipulate governments in various countries,” said Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
Speaking at the Mediterranean Dialogues Forum held in Rome, the Saudi minister said Iranian interference can be seen from Lebanon to Syria, from Yemen to Iraq, where Tehrain continues to fund militias and “use violence to try and further their political agendas, including attacking diplomatic missions.”
Prince Faisal also said that “we see Iran having a hand in terrorist plots throughout Europe and other places.”
He also said that the Kingdom does not support assassinations, adding that they are “not part of our policy,” referring to the recent killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist linked to Tehran’s nuclear program, who died in hospital after he was gunned down in his car near the Iranian capital.
The foreign minister said the Kingdom supports dialogue between the US and Iran and has always been in favor of that.
“The Trump administration was open to dialogue with Iran, and it was Iran that closed the door to that dialogue,” he said, adding “we will be open to real dialogue in the future that addresses significant issues of concern,” including nuclear non-proliferation, use of ballistic missiles and “most importantly its destabilizing activities.”
He also said the without addressing Iran’s malign role, its funding of armed groups and terrorist organizations in the region and its “attempts to impose its will by force on other states, we are not going to have progress.”
On Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the US President-elect Joe Biden, Prince Faisal said: “I think we will have a positive engagement, there will not always be a full alignment and there will be areas of disagreement, this has always been the case and it’s the case between any two partners.
“But through discussion, dialogue and engagement we will find common ground and work together because in the end we are both committed to the same things,” he said, adding that these include commitment to a secure and stable region, a global community that works together toward multilateralism and respect for national sovereignty.
He said the Biden administration “will find that we have taken a very proactive, positive approach to Yemen by announcing a unilateral cease-fire sometime ago, we have engaged with them through the UN representative very strongly to try and facilitate a permanent declaration of cease-fire from all parties.”
However, he said that the Iran-backed Houthi militia have been reluctant to sign and have put “unacceptable demands which the government of Yemen has not been able to accept.”
The internationally recognized government in Yemen has been battling the Houthis since 2014 in what the United Nations says is one of the biggest humanitarian crises, with over 24 million people – around 80 percent of the population — in need of assistance.
“We are fully committed in Yemen to a political resolution to the conflict and we will work happily and very hard with the incoming (Biden) administration to make that happen,” he said.
While, on the issue of peace in the Middle East, the Saudi foreign minister said that the Kingdom supports a just peace agreement that gives the Palestinians an independent state.
Asked about the Abraham accords, which was an agreement signed by the UAE and Bahrain officially establishing diplomatic relations, the Saudi minister said that they were important steps toward a potential stable region.
“That did help take annexation off the table and they set the groundwork for potential engagement and we can see them as steps in the right direction, provided that we can now use those agreements as well, as a stepping stone to renew engagement between the Palestinians and Israelis, and work toward settling back a dispute that is fair and equitable to the Palestinians and delivers a sovereign state,” he said.
Addressing domestic issues, Prince Faisal referred to many reforms, including women’s rights and the youth.
“Youth and women empowerment are a key focus of Vision 2030 and giving them access to not just the labor market, which we have seen great success in women’s participation in the private sector that has increased by something like 300% over the last five years, and other very significant developments,” he said.
“We continue to work through our laws and legislations to ensure that we have a system that is comparable to any in the world and that is a key focus, because in order for us to empower our youth, they need to have a legal framework environment where they can act in a way that really opens up their potential,” he added.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to transform the Kingdom into an economic and tourist hub, diversify investment opportunities and develop various public and private sectors in an effort to reduce its dependency on oil.
“That reform program remains on track and despite COVID-19 stifling it, we have refocused our attention and energy on the need to move that agenda forward and that includes opening up various sectors of the economy, whether it’s culture, entertainment, sports — all these areas that contribute to a diverse society and economy.”