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Generous Africa needs new partners and innovation to help forcibly displaced – UN refugee chief

Generous Africa needs new partners and innovation to help forcibly displaced – UN refugee chief

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, at a high-level meeting in Yokohama, Japan on helping the forcibly displaced in Africa, noted the range and diversity of challenges facing the continent while flagging new approaches to resolving the problem.

His comments came during a debate on the importance of enhanced partnerships and solidarity to support refugees and displaced people in Africa. It was held as part of the seventh Tokyo International Conference on Development in Africa and was organized by the Japanese aid agency, JICA, the African Union Commission and the UN Office of the Special Advisor on Africa.

Grandi said financial support remains vital for helping the 25 million forcibly displaced people in Africa, almost a third of the world’s total of 70.8 million. Conflict triggers the displacement of most but their flight is made more complex by poverty, climate issues, food insecurity and  bad governance.

The number of refugees in Africa has tripled over the past decade and the number of internally displaced people has soared in the past year. Their situation requires strategic approaches and a focus on solutions. Grandi said the world should not take traditional African hospitality for granted, adding that with crises lasting longer and longer, it was important to shape new partnerships.

It was this consideration that underpinned the development of the Global Compact for Refugees in 2018 and the practical application of this compact, especially in Africa, as a tool for regional stability.

“This approach is about new partners, especially development actors, the private sector, civil society, and it is also about adopting innovative tools,” the High Commissioner noted. Partnerships and innovation are among the key themes of TICAD 7.

This approach has already helped mobilise US$3 billion for education, infrastructure, employment and environment programmes for refugees and their hosts in eight African countries during the 2016-2018 GCR pilot programme. Governments are showing the world that the forcibly displaced with their skills and determination are assets rather than burdens.   

”Forced displacement is not just a humanitarian phenomenon; it’s a global crisis that requires global strategic instruments to respond to. This is what we are designing through the Global Compact,” Grandi said, adding that this would be showcased at the Global Refugee Forum in December in Geneva.

“It is possible to respond in a different way and to make commitments towards the future so that African generosity and solidarity remain strong and an example to the whole world.”

High Commissioner Grandi also held bilateral talks with several leaders on the sidelines of TICAD, including a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, the presidents of Burkina Faso, Mali and Rwanda and the prime minister of Tanzania and attended some of the other events in TICAD including special conferences on security and stability of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa regions.

The TICAD refugee event was held also to further the African Union theme of 2019, which has been designated as “The Year for Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons” in Africa, and efforts to find solutions for them.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
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