22 September 2011

Cessation of Refugee Status in Africa

Today, the Fahamu Refugee Programme launched a campaign to oppose the withdrawal of international protection from Rwandan refugees. Fahamu has prepared a detailed Memorandum of Fact and Law to spell out why it feels cessation of refugee status in the Rwanda case is unwarranted; it plans to present its findings at the upcoming UNHCR Executive Committee meeting in October.

Under Art. 1(C)(5) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and Art. 4(e) of the 1969 Convention on the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, States can invoke the "ceased circumstances" clause for refugee populations and return them to their country of origin. UNHCR can also declare cessation for groups under its competence (see Art. 6A(e) of the 1950 Statute of UNHCR). A recent RSC Working Paper, entitled "Reviewing the Application of the Cessation Clause of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in Africa," notes that between 1973 and 2008, the cessation clause was invoked 25 times, mostly for African States (see footnote 8 and Annex 1).

More recently, the cessation clause has been applied to the Congolese in Gabon, and, besides Rwandans, is also slated for Angolans and Liberians at the end of 2011. Moreover, discussions have taken place regarding the cessation of refugee status for Burundians.

Additional references to resources relating to cessation more generally can be browsed for here.

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