On the occasion of the World Refugee Day celebration, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, through its Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa (the Special Rapporteur), Ms Maya Sahli Fadel, joins refugees across the world and those in Africa in particular to commemorate this day.
World Refugee Day was established to honour the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
The theme for this year is: “one family torn apart by war is too many.” Imagine being the mother of a sick and hungry child and having to decide between risking your life staying in a conflict or leaving behind everything in search of safety. Unfortunately, this is the choice faced by millions of people in Africa as a result of political instability and conflict on the continent.
On World Refugee Day, let us not forget that some day in the future any one of us could be knocking at a stranger's door hoping to find a safe and friendly shelter. We should extend refugees the same kind of welcome we would like to receive if we were in their position
The Special Rapporteur wishes to remind African States of their obligations under the OAU 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa ratified by the majority of African countries. Under Article 2 (1) of the Convention, OAU (AU) Member States undertake to use their best endeavours consistent with their respective legislations to receive refugees and to secure the settlement of those refugees who, for well-founded reasons, are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin or nationality.
The Special Rapporteur therefore calls on African States that have not yet done so to draft domestic legislation on asylum and establish national institutions to protect refugees living in their respective territories. She further calls on African States to implement regional and international legal instruments which they have ratified in order to ensure greater protection of the rights of refugees.
The Special Rapporteur encourages countries that have extended their hospitality and solidarity to refugees living in their territories, and calls on all African States to contribute collectively to the costs relating to the accommodation of refugees in accordance with the principle of African solidarity and international cooperation as stipulated in the OAU 1969 Convention.