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  • on 29.03.2018
  • at 02:12 PM
  • by Staff

Africa: The Funding Gap for Refugees in Africa Must Be Closed 0

While many destination countries are restricting their protection of refugees, the global refugee population continues to grow. The most recent Global Trends report from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) shows that by the end of 2016, 65.6 million people worldwide were displaced by conflict and persecution.

And despite Europe, Australia and North America making the most noise about the refugee crisis, it’s poorer – mostly African – countries that are carrying the heaviest burden. Africa accounts for eight of the 10 countries hosting the most refugees relative to the size of their national economies.

A third of the displaced 65.6 million mentioned in the Global Trends report came from sub-Saharan Africa, with most now living in neighbouring countries in what were intended as temporary conditions. Less than 1% of refugees are resettled in third countries. In 2016, 37 countries in total accepted 189 300 refugees for resettlement – and for many, temporary camp situations become long-term realities.

Refugees from Somalia and South Sudan are confined to ‘temporary’ camps for decades, even generations

South Sudan and Somalia are the source of the third and fourth largest number of refugees internationally, making up three quarters of the almost 900 000 refugees in Ethiopia. This country hosts the sixth largest refugee population in the world.

The displacement of Somalia’s refugees began in 1991, and so far, is globally one of the longest. A third civil war in South Sudan also accounts for a large number of displaced people from that country. As at 31 January this year, there were 428 928 South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia, of whom 53 925 were there from before December 2013. This means that 375 003 have been displaced to Ethiopia since the start of South Sudan’s third civil war.

Ironically though, South Sudan and Somalia are the two most under-funded refugee situations in the world. An October 2017 report shows funding shortages for these two countries of US$516 million and US$365 million respectively. The result, as revealed in the report, is extremely poor living conditions for these refugees in Ethiopia.

Due to the dire situations in their home countries, refugees from Somalia and South Sudan can be confined to these camps for decades, and even generations, without work or the freedom to move, and with limited access to education and healthcare.

Chronic underfunding has also led to declining access to food and water and NGO support. Poor quality of life in the camps over long periods poses humanitarian, development and security concerns, including extremism. Bored and frustrated youth without access to work, quality education or freedom of movement are historically vulnerable to recruitment.

These conditions were revealed in a 2017 study conducted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). The research looked at the impact of violent extremism on South Sudanese and Somalian refugees in Ethiopia. It found no evidence to substantiate concerns that terrorist groups were actively infiltrating refugee populations, but instead revealed the poor conditions refugees were subjected to for long periods.

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By Aimée-Noël Mbiyozo (Institute for Security Studies)

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi