Addis Ababa/Nairobi, 11 February 2019 – African governments need to do more to protect and support vulnerable people on the move, irrespective of their legal status and irrespective of their reason for leaving their homes. This was the message delivered today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) at an African Union high-level dialogue on refugees, returnees and internally displaced people.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC’s Under Secretary General for Programmes and Operations, who took part in the panel said:
“All of those on the move should have access not only to basic services to meet needs like water, food, medical care – but also to protection and to measures that seek to restore their hope and safeguard their dignity.
“We call on authorities across Africa to ensure that vulnerable people, irrespective of their legal status and irrespective of whether their movement is forcible or voluntary, are provided with humanitarian assistance and protection along the routes they take.”
Sub-Saharan Africa hosts over 18 million displaced people. Many of these displacements have been caused by conflicts and crises such as those in the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, or more recently in Burundi. Others are fleeing disasters: flooding in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda, and drought in Somalia, displaced more than a million people in 2018.
“Compared to other regions, Africa has a well-developed legal framework related to situations of forced displacement,” said Mr Chapagain. “Yet States often face difficulties to implement and apply such frameworks. The recently adopted Global Compact for Refugees presents an opportunity to reinforce cooperation and collaboration.”
The Compact emphasises the importance of the principle of responsibility sharing, for instance in supporting countries who host large numbers of displaced people with funding and capacity building. The Compact also stresses the need to help people become self-reliant by giving them access to livelihoods, work and education.
Local actors – such as National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – can play an important role in supporting States to achieve these objectives. The range of activities they undertake is extremely broad, ranging from providing assistance and protection to refugees, to helping local integration, to supporting resettlement to a third country or relocation to another part of the country in the case of Internally Displaced Persons.