Forcibly displaced persons in Africa are not just those captured in the news making dangerous attempts to go to Europe through the Libyan desert or the Mediterranean Sea. They also include thousands of others dislodged from their countries who are now being hosted by other African countries.
As conflict and natural disasters are some of the main reasons behind forced displacement on the continent, tackling the root causes is the best way to protect refugees and displaced persons, said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the ongoing Africa Dialogue Series (ADS) 2019 at the UN headquarters in New York.
Bringing together UN member states, the African Union, the UN system, the private sector, civil society, academia, think-tanks and the African Diaspora, the three-day event starting 21 – 23 May will explore “durable solutions for forcibly displaced persons in Africa.”
The annual African Dialogue Series, held in the lead up to Africa Day marked on 25 May, provide a platform to explore critical issues affecting the African continent, including peace, security, human rights, humanitarian and development.
“Over the next two days, I urge you to build on best practices; to look for short and long-term solutions; to create new and innovative partnerships; to identify areas for stronger international support; and to continue your leadership on this issue,” said Mr. Guterres.
He noted that the best way to protect refugees and displaced people is to prevent them from having to leave their homes. “That means tackling root causes: poverty, conflict, discrimination and exclusion of all kinds”.
Solidarity and hospitality
Africa “is home to over 24 million forcibly displaced persons, representing one-third of the world’s total,” said the Under-Secretary-General’s and Special Adviser on Africa, Bience Gawanas, during the opening session of the dialogue series, adding: “The factors giving rise to this problem are well-known: conflict and natural disasters just to name but a few.”
Caring for refugees and internally displaced people is challenging for countries. Yet Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are some of the African countries hosting big numbers of refugees and other displaced people.
These countries accommodate refugees, providing them with all forms of humanitarian assistance and integrating then into the society.
On the first day of ADS, representatives of countries with large refugee populations shared some of the best practices and lessons learned with a goal to replicate them across the continent.
Participants will also deliberate on the Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons, the contribution of youth and the Diaspora to peace and sustainable development in Africa, and how stakeholders can work together for sustainable solutions.