Between Hope & Hell: Africa's Refugee Crisis
By Georgina Goodwin
The world is currently facing the highest levels of displacement ever in history, with an unprecedented 70.8 million forcibly displaced worldwide from their homes by war, internal conflicts, drought or poor economies. Sub-Saharan Africa hosts more than 26 per cent of the world’s refugee population. Africa’s refugee crisis stretches from the Lake Chad Basin through the Great Lakes to the Horn. By the end of 2018, UNHCR figures show over 6.3 million people in Africa are living as refugees. With so many conflicts, borders and regions the situation is extraordinarily complex but my documentation of Great Lakes and Horn regions will give some idea of the situation at the moment.
The Central African neighbouring countries of Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC all shelter large numbers of refugees from each other as a result of more than two decades of conflicts. As of July 2018, Tanzania is recorded to be hosted a total of 340,669 people of concern, and faces a protracted humanitarian crisis. Nyarugusu camp opened over 20 years ago now accommodates nearly 153,024 refugees from DRCongo and Burundi. Nduta camp re-opened in October 2015 now has 104,784 asylum-seekers and refugees from Burundi. Adding to the figures in 2018 was the increase in the number of displaced people due to internal displacement in Ethiopia.
Since 2016, UNHCR estimates there to be 1.5 million people internally displaced in Somalia, nearly 900,000 living as refugees in the near region, due to a 2 decade conflict. The on-going process of political and security stabilization in Somalia presents a critical moment to renew finding durable solutions efforts. UNHCR and partners have assisted 83,938 Somalis to voluntarily return to Somalia between December 2014 and 30 April 2019. Uganda is the third largest refugee-hosting country in the world with a total of 1,223,003 refugees in February 2019 from South Sudan. UN Refugees Chief Filippo Grandi has praised Uganda’s “open border” policy calling it the most progressive approach in Africa and a model for the rest of the world.
Africa’s refugees not only face extreme poverty but challenging environmental conditions and extraordinary political situations as well. Children, who make up more than half of the refugee population, are bearing the brunt with challenges in education, lack of food, school materials and too few teachers, their salaries too low to offer incentive. Adequate shelter is a basic human right and basic necessity but providing this for each refugee family is more than a big challenge. Hundreds of thousands of refugees in Africa are suffering, there just isn’t the funding.