The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an agency of the United Nations, has cited the Regional Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen as an example of humanitarian and development efforts that work together to support durable solutions, address the drivers of displacement and build the capacity of governments in the region.
IOM Director General António Vitorino was among the dignitaries who spoke at the recent 32nd African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit, whose theme was The Year of Refugees, Returnees and IDPs: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa, in recognition of the challenges and the need to recognise links between displacement, peace and security, and development in Africa.
The summit coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Convention on Refugees and the tenth anniversary of the 2009 AU Convention on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), known as the Kampala Convention.
Vitorino singled out the AU-EU-UN Task Force on Libya, which combines the operational strengths of IOM and UNHCR with the political tools of the African Union, European Union and United Nations as another example of how key partners can cooperate to address the challenges of mixed migration in a coherent manner.
According to Vitorino in a remark at the close of the roundtable discussion, ‘’there is an urgent need to address root causes as we will continue to see an increase in both mixed and complex flows, which includes regular migrants, displaced people, as well as refugees who face sometimes similar vulnerabilities that make them prone to the activities of criminal networks and terrorist organisations.’’
He emphasised the need for capacity building at the regional, inter-regional, and global level to address both the structural and proximate factors that continue to drive forced displacement on the continent.
Vitorino commended Africa for its support of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and went on to urge the AU to take the lead in bringing to life both the Global Compact for Migration and Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) so that the human rights of refugees and migrants can continue to be upheld.
He also emphasised that IOM would continue to support the continental body through, among others, support for the establishment of an African Observatory on Migration to improve the generation of data and statistics on migratory flows on the continent. Through initiatives like the Africa Migration Report (AMR), the first ever of its kind, IOM will continue to support the African Union Commission in their aspiration to own their migration narrative.
Vitorino, accompanied by Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the AU, IGAD and UNECA, also held bilateral discussions with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission, that covered a broad range of migration topics of concern to both the European Union Commission and the IOM.
Together they visited IOM Ethiopia’s Assisted Voluntary Return Transit Centre in Addis Ababa where Ms. Mogherini interacted with Ethiopian returnees awaiting return to and reunification with their families to understand better their personal circumstances that lead them to take on these perilous journeys, and to reflect on possible solutions.
Speaking during a roundtable earlier, Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s Director of Operations and Emergencies noted that the Kampala Convention puts Africa at the forefront of regional frameworks for displacement situations and urged its formal adoption and integration into national legislation, noting that this was central to achieving the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness (CAP), adopted in 2016.
The CAP defines the continent’s new humanitarian architecture and emphasizes the need to address the root causes and achieving durable solutions, by strengthening the capacity of states and stakeholders to address challenges of forced displacement and enhancing humanitarian action on the continent.