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

The Honorable Nancy Lindborg, moderator
President & CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

What’s Behind the Lebanon-Gulf Diplomatic Row?

What’s Behind the Lebanon-Gulf Diplomatic Row?

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Already in the throes of existential political and economic crises, Lebanon is now facing a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia and several of its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Following critical comments made by Lebanese Minister of Information George Kordahi about the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, Riyadh expelled Lebanon’s ambassador, banned all Lebanese imports, and recalled its ambassador to Lebanon. In solidarity, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait summoned their ambassadors in Lebanon. This current crisis reflects the Gulf’s broader concerns over Iran’s influence in the region and the powerful role of its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

How China Responds to Instability on Its Periphery: Lessons from Afghanistan and Myanmar

How China Responds to Instability on Its Periphery: Lessons from Afghanistan and Myanmar

Monday, November 1, 2021

By: Alison McFarland;  Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.

China’s timid rhetoric and underwhelming actions vis-à-vis recent political upheaval in two different neighboring countries belie the image of a confident and assertive Beijing. What explains this apparent paradox? Despite the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s outward bravado, combined with unprecedented expansion of China’s regional and global activities and presence, Xi Jinping and his Politburo colleagues remain wary when it comes to taking risks abroad. Certainly, when China believes its interests are being directly attacked, such as in recent disputes with Australia and India, the state has opted for riskier, more aggressive moves. But where Beijing is not a direct party to the conflict, caution can override its willingness to take action that would show its hand or put China in a situation where it is not guaranteed to avoid a messy exit, à la the United States in Afghanistan.

Global PolicyConflict Analysis & Prevention

Myanmar’s Unity Government Meets with NSA Sullivan, Gains Further Traction

Myanmar’s Unity Government Meets with NSA Sullivan, Gains Further Traction

Thursday, October 28, 2021

By: Jason Tower

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan recently met with representatives of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) — a shadow government representing the lawmakers elected by the people in the November 2020 election. The meeting boosted the NUG’s regional and international profile as an alternative to the brutal violence of the Burmese military, which has failed to gain control over the country since last February’s coup. But questions remain about whether the NUG and the disparate ethnic armed groups, political parties and civil society leaders that reject military rule can find common ground beyond a shared enemy. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionDemocracy & Governance

View All Publications