UN partners meet in Nairobi to review the refugee and IDP situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa
Nairobi, 22 January 2018 – The Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region and representatives of UN agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as well as regional partners, namely the World Bank and the European Union, met in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22 January 2018 to review the refugee and displacement situation in the Great Lakes region. Discussions focused on opportunities for leveraging the Special Envoy’s mandate on displacement-related issues through political engagement in the region. Participants also exchanged of views on a joint UN-International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) stakeholders meeting to increase awareness on the current situation of IDPs, and to make recommendations on addressing the root causes of displacement.
The situation of IDPs in the Great Lakes region is dire. According to OCHA some 11 million people are currently uprooted in the region and this figure is expected to rise in 2018. This number includes 6.6 million IDPs across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR) and Burundi. According to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), the DRC was globally the country worst affected by conflict displacement in 2017, with an average of 5,500 people fleeing their homes every day.
A number of neighboring countries of the DRC have also seen significant increases of displacement as a result of insecurity and conflict. In South Sudan over 4 million people are currently uprooted, including over 2 million IDPs and close to 2 million refugees and asylum seekers in adjacent countries, including in Uganda which has now become the largest refugee host country in Africa, with 1.4 million refugees.
In view of this situation, the leaders of the region who convened in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, for the eighth Regional Oversight Mechanism meeting, urged national, regional and international actors to continue addressing urgent humanitarian needs and provide durable solutions for internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers. Furthermore, the Heads of State and Government encouraged the United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, to hold consultations with relevant stakeholders to further promote durable solutions to displacement in the region.
At the international level, in a briefing to Member States held on 16 November 2017 in New York, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator called for urgent solutions to address the root causes of the worsening crisis in the DRC and asked all those with the capacity, duty, and influence to ensure that the causes of the crisis are urgently addressed.
In an effort to address the refugee and displacement situation, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region proposes to host a stakeholders meeting in Nairobi in the first half of 2018. The objectives of the meeting will be to raise the profile of the “forgotten crisis” and to make recommendations on how governments of the region, international actors and partners can work together to address the root causes of displacement and identify durable solutions.