25 September 2009

AU Special Summit on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons

Uganda will host the African Union's Special Summit on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa from 19-23 October 2009. A principal item on the agenda is the consideration and adoption of the Draft AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. For more background information on the summit and its objectives, read the Information Note and the lead article in UNHCR's Highlights from Addis newsletter.

Related posts:
IDPs in Africa
AU Convention on Internal Displacement

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...


By Nsubuga Rogers

I am glad that African Union has chosen Uganda to be the venue for the Special Summit on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), to be held in Kampala from 19th – 23rd October, 2009.

Father Joseph Donders W.F. and Father S. Smith SJ, stated in their Book Refugees Are People: An Action Report on Refugees in Africa Published by AMECEA Pastoral Institute in Spearhead No. 88 of October 1985, that; “it is a terrible thing to be a refugee especially in Africa. This is not because Africa is Africa but because Africans have very strong Family ties, feel very close to their ancestors buried in the very land that they also feel close to and which they had to leave”.

Some sadists would argue that in many Countries those who claim to be refugees fall under non of the description defined by the UN in its 1967 Protocol which defined a refugee as “Every person who owing to well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or owing to such a fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside of the country of his habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or willing to such a fear is unwilling to return to it.”

To the UN Protocol the then OAU, now AU extended the definition of a refugee for Africa. The extension was made in a declaration called the OAU Convention governing the specific aspects of refugees’ problems in Africa. It was adopted in 1969 in Addis Ababa. The OAU Convention added; “the term ‘refugee’ to apply to every person who owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his/her country of origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his/hers country of origin or nationality.

However, the OAU put conditions on refugees defined by the conventions. They should not abuse the spirit of African solidarity and that hosting governments should not reject refugees at the frontier. Member States were also restrained from thinking that giving asylum to a refugee is an unfriendly act but a peaceful and humanitarian act. The convention also stipulated that no refugee should be allowed to plot subversive activities against his or her mother Country.

In conclusion, AU has to be applauded for this Summit which will discuss the salient issues of refugees, returnees and IDPs in Africa. However, the following points need to be considered seriously.

• There is need to strengthen early warning systems in Africa in order to avert the situations of generating refugees and IDPs.
• There is also need for the incumbent African Governments not to create unbearable situations which lead citizens to flee to neighboring countries as refugees or IDPs.

• There is need to reemphasize Traditional African hospitality in our Education System to host refugees and IDPs in a friendly manner.

• There is need to improve the economy in Africa to limit the number of economic refugees.

• The unequivocal African Union Role in Peace Keeping Missions in Africa should be intensified and supported by all African Countries because of the part it plays in protecting IDPs/Refugees.

• Member States in Africa should prevent economic and environmental refugees/IDPs by sharing equally the national cake as to stop forced migration of disgruntled citizens.

• Special emphasis should be put on the plight of children and women refugee/IDP in Africa.

• More support should be given towards peaceful conflict resolution and food security in Africa as to curb on massive exodus and internal displacements