Africa’s Forcibly Displaced: From Ad Hoc Responses to Durable Solutions
28 August 2019
Cairo, Egypt, August 28, 2019: Upon assuming the Chairmanship of the African Union in February 2019, Egypt announced the launch of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, as a high-level, multi-stakeholder platform to examine the interlinkages between the “sustaining peace” and “sustainable development” agendas. In his speech before the AU Summit, President Abdelfattah El-Sisi highlighted that “the spread of conflicts, brutality of terrorism, barbarity of extremism, climate change, severity of poverty, water scarcity and drought, combined are factors that force people to leave their homes. This urges us to adopt a development approach that includes mega continental and regional projects to provide job opportunities and innovative reconstruction programs to bring back the displaced to their homes."
Acting in its capacity as the Secretariat of the Aswan Forum, the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA), in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), organized an Expert Workshop in Cairo, Egypt on 28-29 August 2019, titled: Africa’s Forcibly Displaced: From Ad Hoc Responses to Durable Solutions.
The workshop came at a critical time, with the unprecedented scale and complexity of the current forced displacement crisis. According to UNHCR’s 2018 Global Trends Report, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018; of which 41.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs), 25.9 million were refugees, and 3.5 million were asylum seekers. This is the highest level in the last 70 years, double the level of 20 years ago, and 2.3 million more than just a year ago.
While forced displacement is a global phenomenon, Africa continues to be disproportionately impacted. The continent accounts for one-third of refugees globally, with the bulk of African refugee movements happening within Africa. According to the Global Trends Report, half of the ten countries with the highest refugee population relative to national population are in sub-Saharan Africa.
To brought global visibility to forced displacement in Africa, African heads of States and Governments declared 2019 as the “Year of Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons.” This coincides with the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Refugee Convention), and the 10th Anniversary of the 2009 AU Convention for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (The Kampala Convention). The commemoration presents a unique platform to take stock of the implementation of these instruments and the operationalization of the Global Compact on Refugees, while advancing a shift from “Ad hoc responses” to “durable solutions” to forced displacement in Africa.
The workshop brought together humanitarian, development, and peace and security actors, with officials from African countries, the African Union Commission, including from the Departments for Political Affairs and Peace and Security, as well as international organizations and partner countries to share views on addressing forced displacement of Africans in and out of Africa. Moreover, it aimed to inform the ongoing deliberations concerning the operationalization of the African Humanitarian Architecture, including the African Humanitarian Agency, and the integration and coordination of its work with that of other relevant AU Departments, so as to provide an integrated response to forced displacement. The workshop contributed to informing the design, implementation and evaluation of new and innovative programs and interventions aimed at addressing the root causes of forced displacement and responding to the needs of the forcibly displaced, as well as source and host nations and communities.