ADDIS ABABA, August 26 – Members of the African Union Permanent Representative Committee, Donors and Partner Agencies have recognized the magnitude of displacement in Africa and reiterated their commitment to finding durable solutions during a quarterly update session on the 2019 African Union theme: ``The Year for Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.”
Speaking at the review meeting on Friday at the AU Commission, H.E. Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Political Affairs, who expressing gratitude to all participants, also appealed for more engagement and funding. She applauded the efforts of what she described as “a fantastic job on the theme of the year”. “We need your skills and expertise to find durable solutions to forced displacement. We need more of you to get involved and we can do more together,” she appealed.
UNHCR figures show that in 2018 the number of forcibly displaced people topped 70 million globally. Africa hosts about 7.4 million refugees and asylum seekers and 17.8 million internally displaced persons, which is more than a third of the world’s forcibly displaced.
Participants were updated on activities so far undertaken, including the commemorative event on the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention; the visit of the Champion of the theme of the year, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, H.E.Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, to Tsore refugee camp in Ethiopia, a roundtable conference on the root causes of displacement, training for civil servants on refugee, IDP and human rights law in Livingstone, Zambia; a Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa meeting in Morocco, an open session at the AU Headquarters in which two refugees were among panellists on:
``The role of women in conflict prevention and post conflict peace building: the contributions of women refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees”, and the Pan-African Parliament workshop and a special session in Johannesburg during which MPs discussed refugee and migration issues; and a high-level inter-ministerial meeting on forced displacement in the Great Lakes region held in Uganda. The Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), in collaboration with the African Union Commission, UNHCR, OCHA and other partners also organized the African Dialogue Series at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, among other activities.
Mr Cosmas Chanda, the UNHCR Representative to the African Union thanked all donors, including the Irish government for their donation which recently brought together 15 refugee and returnee women from nine African countries to discuss the challenges they faced from forcible displacement. He said one of the refugee participants from the dialogue will be attending the Tokyo International Conference of African Development in the coming days. The dialogue is part of a series of events funded under the Irish Aid.
The US Ambassador to the AU, H.E. Marybeth Leonard, said the United States is committed to supporting humanitarian response and solutions in Africa. “We are the largest donor with nearly US 3.8 billion dollars in humanitarian aid in Africa in fiscal year 2018 alone," she remarked.
The interactive quarterly meeting was co-chaired by UNOCHA Representative to the African Union, Mr Oketch Johnstone and Ms Rita Amukhobu, Senior Political Officer, HARDP Division.
Ms Amukhobu concluded the meeting by stating that the take home of the session to all partners is ``don’t be left behind, get involved and support the activities of the theme of the Year.
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