AGREEMENTS AND ABDUCTION: Inside the ALAMAU Conference
The First Two sessions of the MAU conference have so far consisted of outspoken independent thinkers, impartial debates, powerful questions about issues on the African continent, and a mysterious disappearance. The committee of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development (HHS) has been addressing the issues regarding migrant workers, referring both to host and home countries. This committee was headed up by Chairperson Fridaous Laleye, Deputy Chairperson Adem Amir Ezzedini, and Moderator Jeffrey Ofuman. This Dias handled both sessions with integrity and respect towards each other as well as the delegates, which is commendable. The countries represented in this committee were the Republic of Burundi, the Republic of Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Madagascar, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Rwanda, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Kenya, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Mauritius, the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. The representatives from each of these countries engaged with the topic of migrant workers with a strong willingness and sought change.
Some highlighted points during these two sessions were collaboration amongst countries to minimise the flaws in the management of migrant workers and host countries needing to respect the rights of these workers to name just two. When the committee was receiving motions, Guinea Bissau raised the motion to discuss the importance of having independent committees in charge of ensuring the safety of migrant workers. Burundi agreed that having an organisation that was separated from a country’s government but still working with the government will limit the exploitation of workers from other nations. It was also brought to attention that many sub-Saharan workers were being mistreated in North African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia. However, these governments acknowledged Xenophobia within their borders and are aiming to make their countries safer for migrant workers. The sessions were proceeding smoothly and countries were willing to work with one another to stimulate Pan-African change.
Then the unimaginable happened. During the beginning of the second session, alarming news was shared with the committee that the Chairperson of the conference, Aya Ben Saad was abducted and missing. Tensions were rising in the room and delegates began questioning whether it was right to
continue a conference without the Chairperson, especially under the circumstances of abduction. The HHS decided to halt normal proceedings and rather hold an unmoderated caucus about the crisis that arose. When I asked delegates how they felt about the current situation, many felt confused, upset, and worried about the safety of this prestigious conference’s Chairperson. To make matters all that worse, an important video file was shared with the committee only to display the horrific image of Ms. Ben Saad being tied to a chair with her face covered. She was being held captive. In the video, the voice of Ben Saad’s abductor was heard, requesting a resolution from all committees regarding the Carbon Colonialism displayed by Western countries (such as Europe and America) in exchange for the Chairperson’s safety. Although the HHS has little to nothing to do with environmental issues, the delegates were quick to jump into action, ready to do whatever was needed to help their chairperson. Within the timeframe of around 20 minutes, a resolution was drafted that commented on how western countries cannot use Africa as a waste area and that there
should be sanctions against such behaviour. Luckily soon after the Chairperson of the conference was returned safely.
Watching from the sidelines, it was easy to see how the delegates worked in collaboration with each other and how each individual had the interests of both their country and this continent. I look forward to the conference’s coming days ahead, and to witnessing history being made.