Africa should lead in advancing refugee rights and finding long-term solutions to forced movement, according to new publication by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
The ISS, an African non-profit organization, in its latest publication late on Thursday entitled “Still no end in sight for Africa’s refugee crisis” has stressed the importance of finding sustainable solutions to the continent’s refugee problem as a shared responsibility by all states.
According to the report, the continent’s refugee crisis, which is partially attributed to instability, human rights abuses and ongoing conflicts, is presently witnessed in many African countries.
The report, which noted three African countries that are Burundi, Nigeria and South Sudan as the UN Refuge Agency’s (UNHCR) six priority situations worldwide, indicated that “instability, human rights abuses and/or ongoing conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Mali, Somalia and Sudan have worsened the internally displaced and refugee situation in those countries and their regions.”
The report also indicated that Africa’s refugee and internally displacement crisis to stretch from the Lake Chad Basin through the Great Lakes Region to the Horn of Africa, in which the Sub-Saharan Africa currently hosts an estimated 6.3 million refugees, one-third of the world’s refugee population.
UNHCR’s 2017 Global Trends Report that was released on Tuesday also showed that 85 percent of refugees are hosted in and by developing countries, including in Africa.
The Global Trends Report also indicated that developing countries are the most affected when it comes to forced displacement as wars, other violence and persecution drove worldwide forced displacement to a new high in 2017 for the fifth year in a row.
The ever-increasing forced displacement worldwide is led by three countries, of which two are from Africa: Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, according to the global trends report.
ISS, however, stressed that “much focus when it comes to African forced migration is still on those who flee to Europe.”
“While this is important, given the rising numbers of people dying at sea trying to make their way there, the growing crisis in Africa becomes an afterthought. Refugee flows in Africa receive considerably less attention,” it read.
UNHCR had previously commended African countries for stepping up to the challenge with their asylum provision and refugee protection, despite their own socio-economic and political problems.
Ethiopia and Uganda are among the handful of African countries that are currently hosting millions of refugees mainly from their common neighboring country South Sudan, in which according to UNHCR close to 2.6 million South Sudanese had fled their country by the end of May 2018, while the total number of refugees has now almost doubled what it was at the start of 2017 and is expected to continue rising.
“With no sign of addressing the root causes of the conflict (in South Sudan), the future could be equally bleak for the Horn and the rest of East Africa,” according to ISS’s report.
ISS further recommended African countries to focus on reflections on what has failed, which includes forced repatriations, and what can work, such as localized inclusive peace building, as the key measures as countries negotiate the final text of the Global Compact on Refugees.
“There is an opportunity for countries like Ethiopia and Uganda to share their lessons and lead on a progressive African refugee response,” ISS’s report read. “Finding sustainable solution is not just for Africa to do. It should be the shared responsibility of all states.”