AU seeks ‘durable solutions’ to Africa’s refugee crisis as 32nd Ordinary Session opens in Addis Ababa
London, Feb. 10, 2019 (AltAfrica)-African leaders will attempt to find a common ground and an acceptable solution the the growing problem of refugees in the continent as they converge on Addis Ababa, sunday, the first day of the 32nd Ordinary Session of African Union summit
Getting grasp with the problem is the main topic at an AU summit in Addis Ababa, titled “Refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: Towards durable solutions for forced displacement in Africa.”
” The problem should have been on the agenda for a long time, says Erol Yayboke, deputy director of the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). However: “The fact that the AU is addressing this issue makes me optimistic. We Americans and Europeans believe that boatloads of refugees come to us, but that’s not the case. Most people stay in the region. And now it is up to the AU, because African problems must be solved by an African leadership, that is of great importance.”
The UN refugee agency UNHCR recorded a total of 30 million Africans in need on the continent in 2018. This figure includes almost 7.5 million refugees, 630,000 asylum-seekers, one million stateless persons and around half a million returned refugees. But the largest group is still made up of internally displaced persons (IDPs)
Over 18 million Africans have had to leave their homes but are unable or unwilling to leave their country according to a recent report
That figure has recently been rising because of ongoing crises in countries like the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
According to the UNHCR, 85 percent of the displaced people are in developing countries.
Three African countries – Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia – are among the top 10 countries hosting refugees in the world.
“African Union member states will not suddenly find money to give to refugees,” Achieng Akena, executive director of the Pan African Citizens Network, a civil society group that campaigns for democracy and human rights in Africa, told Al Jazeera.
“Africa needs to do better in integrating refugees and allowing them to work. Refugees, like other people, need to live a life of dignity,” Akena added.
Refugees and IDPs are not the only topic the African leaders are discussing during the summit.
The AU will reveal the long-awaited design of a passport for all African countries. It is hoped that the passports will bring the continent one step closer to free movement of its people.
The AU’s Commission will present details concerning the design, production, and issue of the passport at the summit.
The passports are expected to replace existing nationally issued AU member state passports.
The passports, when rolled out, will exempt bearers from having to obtain visas for all 55 states in Africa.
But experts say it might be years before citizens have the new passport.
“Free movement of African citizens is generally a good idea. The question is whether it can be implemented,” Elissa Jobson, head of Africa regional advocacy at the International Crisis Group, told Al Jazeera.
“There will be concerns from the more developed countries that they will have a lot of migrants seeking to come to their countries for economic reasons,” Jobson said.
The 55-member pan-African body will also appoint a new leader to succeed President Paul Kagame who is stepping down.
Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expected to be confirmed for the role.