Africa hosts more than one-third of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)—many of whom are fleeing ongoing conflicts in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. This growing phenomenon impacts not only those fleeing conflict, but also the host communities and countries who now face complex logistical and humanitarian challenges. A comprehensive response to this problem must seek to address root causes, thereby preventing further displacement, and also find durable solutions for the many millions already displaced.

Human migration is a natural, constant process and contributes to the development of cultures and economies. But when displacement is forced—whether by violent conflict, poor governance, or environmental factors such as natural disasters or drought—the displaced often find themselves traumatized and vulnerable to physical and economic insecurity. And for those who live in refugee camps and host communities, the conditions are as diverse as the issues that drive displacement. That’s why, in acknowledgement of both the challenges of displacement and the leadership roles played by African countries that host refugees, the African Union has named 2019 the year of refugees, IDPs and returnees.

The U.S. Institute of Peace, the African Diplomatic Corps, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a discussion on forced displacement in Africa. The panel conversation highlighted African policy responses to displacement at the national, regional, and continental level, discuss current and anticipated challenges, and brainstorm innovative approaches. Follow the conversation with #AfricaDayUSIP.

Speakers

H.E. Soorooj Phokeer, opening remarks
Ambassador of the Republic of Mauritius

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), opening remarks
U.S. Representative from California

Carol Thompson O’Connell, opening remarks
Acting Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State

H.E. Mathilde Mukantabana
Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda

H.E. Wilson Mutagaywa Kajumula Masilingi
Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania

H.E Mull Ssebujja Katende
Ambassador of the Republic of Uganda

Matthew Reynolds
Regional Representative of the UN Refugee Agency for the United States of America and the Caribbean, UNHCR

Ger Duany
Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the East and Horn of Africa, UNHCR

Nancy Lindborg, moderator
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

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