3rd November 2019, Kampala, Uganda: The Continental Consultative Meeting and the Continental Youth Consultations have concluded in Kampala, Uganda. Held under the themes, “promoting the ratification, domestication and implementation of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa” and “Youth and Forced Displacement in Africa – Trends, Challenges and Prospects towards durable solutions” respectively, the two meetings form a critical component of the pre-events leading to the 8th High Level Dialogue on the African Union theme of the year 2019. Another preceding meeting on gender mainstreaming and youth empowerment was convened in November 2019 to deliberate on gender dimensions of forced displacement.
The two-day meetings reflected on the data and patterns of displacement in Africa; as well as the challenges and unexplored opportunities from the youth perspective considering that out of Africa’s population of 1.2 billion people, over 70% are young people. It was also an opportunity to deliberate at lengths, the provision of the “Kampala Convention” and the national experiences on its ratification, domestication and implementation in the protection and assistance of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). Adopted by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2009, the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) is the first and only continental legally binding agreement of its kind, in Africa and globally. Twenty nine (29) Member States have ratified the Convention, with the latest ratifications in 2019 deposited by South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia.
Similarly, other key continental frameworks for the protection and assistance of refugees, IDPs and returnees were referred and referenced in the discussions such as the OAU Refugee Convention that is being commemorated at its 50th Anniversary this year and has so far been ratified by forty six (46) member states; the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the 50th Solemn Declaration on Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance in 2013; and the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness.
With participation drawn from the African Union Member States; the Regional Economic Communities; AU organs; Refugees, IDPs and Returnees; civil societies; human rights institutions, judicial institutions; United Nations agencies; development Partners; youth from across the continent, the meetings were facilitated by the African Union Commission through the department of Political Affairs and the African Governance Architecture secretariat. Despite commendable efforts to address and manage forced displacement in Africa, the participants acknowledged that displacement triggered by conflicts, disasters, and effects of climate change remain unacceptably high. They underscored the importance of strengthening the collection and analysis of data on forcibly displaced persons for better development of sustainable solutions, guided by evidence-based responses and strategies.
To realize the transformation of the continent in line with the African union shared vision of integration and development as articulated in Agenda 2063, Uganda’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, Amb. Rebecca Otengo called for accelerated implementation of the Kampala Convention. She stated, “Africa is currently facing deplorable humanitarian crises that are displacing thousands of people within their own countries of nationality. This phenomenon is further exacerbated by the global problems of climate change and international terrorism. This meeting is yet another opportunity to openly discuss and address both the root causes of humanitarian crises in Africa and to gradually and definitively end this problem.”
Echoing similar sentiments, the AU Commission Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Matlosa Khabele observed the need to interrogate the structural causes that serve as drivers of forced displacement. “We need to deepen the discussions on root causes that continue to impede development in the continent and aggravate the issue of forced displacements”, he noted. “If the African continent does not address the challenges posed by humanitarian crises and forced displacement, we will not realize Aspiration 3 of Agenda 2063, which envisions an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law”, he concluded.
While citing unequal and uneven distribution of resources as well as insecurity among factor that forces displacement, especially of women and children, as they take precautionary safety measures, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative to the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa Mr. Cosmas Chanda commended the efforts put in ensuring safety and dignity of forcibly displaced persons stating, “African leaders, generally, have been very generous. They have an open-door policy to asylum seekers and refugees. They have given refugees access to natural resources, to make use of institutions such as schools, hospitals, clinics and universities. We encourage them to continue with that. We do realise it is a burden, but one that has to be shared. It is one phenomenon that makes Africa stand out.”
Africa hosts over 25.2 million forcibly displaced persons, made up of 7.4 million refugees and 17.8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). In acknowledging the existing challenges and the prevailing need to recognize links between displacement, peace and security and its development dimension, the AU Heads of State and Government in July 2018 adopted a decision declaring 2019 as “The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”. A number of activities have been undertaken in the implementation of the roadmap of the theme of the year. These activities will be reviewed in the 8th High Level Dialogue, which convenes on the 4th to 6th December 2019. Under the championship of H.E Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the theme of the year has placed emphasis on the implementation of durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa with particular focus on refugees, IDPs and returnees. 2019 also coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees in Africa and the 10th anniversary of the African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, popularly known as the Kampala Convention.
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Learn more at: https://au.int/en/newsevents/20191204/8th-high-level-dialogue-au-theme-y...