As the AU celebrates the tenth anniversary of the convention adopted in 2009 to provide legal protection and assistance to millions of internally displaced persons, the refugee problem remains largely unresolved.
Every day, people are forced to leave their homes, often brutally. There are many reasons: to escape conflict, to flee the effects of climate change, such as declining agricultural production, water scarcity and rising sea levels, or to leave with the hope of a better future elsewhere.
Currently, the African Union estimates that there are at least 6 million internally displaced persons in the continent and this figure keeps growing due to the increasing conflicts in the continent.
Understand, participate and act
Oxfam is this year bringing together civil society bodies, government leaders and communities across Africa to gain a better knowledge of the migration phenomenon.
“It is essential to understand the root causes and their consequences and to consider the implementation of the necessary measures to best anticipate flows and thereby plan solutions.” said Apollos Nwafor, Pan Africa Director at Oxfam International. “It is also crucial to think particularly about the fate of women, girls, the disabled and the elderly. These refugee categories are more exposed to violence during and after their migration routes.
Their access to legal protection, safety, hygiene, a dignified life and respect for their rights are often further compromised. Although the risk is generally increased during transit, it does not disappear once in reception centres, refugee camps, camps or sites of internal displacement,” he continued.
Shared responsibility and solidarity on a global scale
This phenomenon affects countries in all parts of the world. Oxfam calls on Countries neighbouring conflict and violence to keep their borders open so that refugees can find protection and security.
Faced with refugees at their doorstep, wealthier countries still too often turn into fortresses. This must come to an end. Rhetoric and policy should not dehumanise refugees or migrants – they are not a threat – International law recognizes and states the rights of refugees and migrants and Oxfam would like to bring to the forefront that these rights be fully respected, protected and fulfilled urgently.
“Human rights must have no borders.” Concluded Apollos Nwafor, Pan Africa Director at Oxfam International.
Whilst the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that about 1.2 million people are vulnerable and in need of resettlement, the number of places offered each year is only around 100,000. This 32nd Summit should be the first step in putting in place pragmatic solutions to further protect this population of migrants in distress by sharing responsibilities and becoming more supportive. By working together, we can build a more just world.”