Current Spotlight: African Refugee Crises

Since the outbreak of the Middle-East conflicts, attention on African refugees has significantly reduced, though the crisis continues in the African continent. UNHCR estimates the numbers of people of concern in African countries in 2015 is nearly about 14.9 million people.

It is likely the scale of displacement will increase in the years ahead due to instability and humanitarian crisis in different parts of Africa, mainly in Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi and Mali.

For decades, political volatility, sectarian violence, weather emergencies and other disasters, such as the Ebola epidemic, have been the key sources for displacement and migration of refugees in this region, yet little attention has been given to overcome this long-lasting crisis.

According to UNHCR, sub-Saharan Africa is the host to the largest number of refugees—nearly 4.1 million—and North Africa alone is the host for nearly 3 million refugees. Among other African countries, Ethiopia is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the fifth largest worldwide.

The scale of displacement on the African continent has continually increased due to shifting political climates and often unforeseen new challenges. Since the eruption of conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, there has been a significant increase in the number of internal displacement, resulting to some 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and an influx of over 450,000 refugees, mostly women and children, into the neighboring countries.

The ongoing crisis in and around CAR has produced up to a million IDPs and around 180,000 refugees. Currently, there are almost one million Somali refugees around East and Horn of Africa, and most of them have lived in camps for over 20 years. Thousands of unaccompanied Eritrean children continue to flee without their parents or guardians each year, and according to UNHCR during just October 2014, about 5,000 Eritreans had escaped into Ethiopia and additional thousands escaped into Sudan.

The number of IDPs and refugees across African continents are on the rise, while the third-generation refugees are still struggling in many refugee camps without any prospect for a stable future. There is a need to raise humanitarian efforts and allocate additional resources and programs for the protection of African refugees, while seeking an appropriate durable solution to the world’s most protracted refugees in the history of mankind.

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