Posted by: africanpressorganization | 19 October 2009

Special summit on refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in Africa / Executive council starts deliberations on adopting important instrument to deal with challenges of forced displacement




Special summit on refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in Africa / Executive council starts deliberations on adopting important instrument to deal with challenges of forced displacement



KAMPALA, Uganda, October 19, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Through the National Policy for Internally Displaced Persons, Uganda has resettled 2.1 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) since 2002. “The remaining 413 000 are gradually returning home on a voluntary basis”.


These were the words of Ugandan Prime Minister Professor Apolo R Nsibambi at the opening of the Extraordinary Session of the AU Executive Council being held in Kampala, Uganda from 19 till 20 October 2009. The Executive Council is being held within the context of the Africa Union Special Summit on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, which will last until Friday 23 October.


Professor Nsibambi noted that during the past couple of years, the African Union and its partners in the United Nations “have resolved many conflicts, creating the possibility for many refugees and IDP situations to be successfully resolved, with the affected populations going back home”.


He said Uganda has been hosting refugees since the Second World War. Since that time, the country has hosted refugees from Poland, Rwanda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya.


But, keeping “large numbers of people in confinement also has serious consequences for peace and stability,” the Prime Minister said, adding that “the potential of otherwise willing and able people to contribute to the development of their communities and nations is being wasted.”


This theme was repeated throughout the official opening ceremony of the Executive Council. African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner also reminded the meeting that Africa is now host to the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world, numbering 17 million.


Mrs. Joiner highlighted that the Summit is expected to focus on

Addressing the root causes and ways of preventing forced displacement

Encouraging burden sharing and dealing with protracted situations

Focusing on reconciliation and post conflict reconstruction

Dealing with refugees in mixed migratory movements

Establishing effective and sustainable mechanisms to deal with natural disasters, climate change and food security


While highlighting that forced displacement is neither unique to Africa nor confined to this century, the Commissioner called for more focus on the root causes of the crises that lead to forced displacement.


“Improvements in governance, rapid economic development, and more appropriate food security strategies” are among the actions that will ensure that the root causes are addressed, she said.


Mrs. Joiner further articulated that the Special Summit is being held to reflect on the specific challenges facing refugees and IDPs; to facilitate the adoption of an instrument that is directed at bridging existing policy and legal gaps; and enhancing and supporting individual and collective actions by Member States.


The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Executive Council, Honourable Mrs Zainab Hawa Bangura who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Sierra Leone had earlier reminded the meeting that it is the young, vibrant portion of Africa’s population that is worst effected by forced displacement. She praised the AU’s initiative to hold the meeting and the Ugandan government for hosting it, saying that the meeting allowed Africa to make home grown decisions on how to deal with the challenges of displacement, which is the best way to ensure sustainability.


For more information on the Special Summit, contact Wynne Musabayana or Yaye Nabo Sene in Uganda on +256 784486047 or +256757087569.



African Union Commission (AUC)


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