Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons

Zainabo Sylvie Kayitesi

Special Rapporteur


    Introduction

    1. This report covers the activities undertaken by myself in my capacity as the Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. The period covers’ activities undertaken between the 49th Ordinary Session in May 2011 and the 50th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

    2. The Report is divided into three parts, Part A outlines my activities as the Special Rapporture on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa and Part B outlines the a brief situational analysis on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and Part C outlines some recommendations.

    A. Activities undertaken as the Special Rapportuer for Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa

    3. During the intersession, on 29 July 2011, I forwarded a letter to Mr. George Okoth-Obbo, Director of the Regional Office for Africa at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva, Switzerland, for the possible collaboration in the promotion and protection of the rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and IDPs in Africa.

    4. As a follow up to the letter, on 11 October 2011, I had a meeting with the Director of the Regional Office for Africa at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva, Switzerland. We had a discussion on the situation of Refugees, IDPs and Migrants in Africa and the possibility of cooperation between its office and the mechanism. We noted that refugees and IDPs are legally covered but migrants need a legal framework to be better protected. We also exchanged on strategies for an effective protection of Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and IDPs.

    5. On 20 October 2011, I chaired the Working Group on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and IDPs of the NGO Forum, organised by the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies in Africa. The group had a discussion on the situation of Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and IDPs in African and found the need for a Resolution on the protection of Migrants.

    6. On 23 October 2011, I took part in a meeting organised by Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA), in Banjul, The Gambia, on Promoting and Protecting the Human Rights of Asylum Seekers, Refugees and other International Migrants. The meeting was attended by various NGOs working in the field of Refugees, Migrants and IDPs. The meeting deliberated on strategies to accelerate the process of ratification by States Parties of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons.

    B. Situation of Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and IDPs in Africa

    7. To date only thirteen (13) African States have ratified the Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons while the ratification of fifteen (15) African countries is needed for the entry into force of the Convention.

    8. The 2010 Global Trends report shows that 43.7 million people are now displaced worldwide. 27.5 million people displaced within their own country by conflict, and nearly 850,000 asylum-seekers, nearly one fifth of them in South Africa alone. The major concerns are the lack of an adequate strategy that responds to the needs of African countries in the face of the global approach to migration and the absence of an African legal instrument such as a Convention for the protection of African migrants at the same level as those which protect Refugees and IDPs. Other concerns are the increasing vulnerability of women and unaccompanied minors who are extremely vulnerable to sexual and gender based violence, trafficking and exploitation, the high incidence of xenophobic violence endangering livelihoods and violating the human rights of refugees and migrants and the lack of cooperation between different institutional actors at the national, regional and continental level in developing rights based asylum and migration policies.

    C. Recommendation

    9. I therefore urge States Parties to ratify the Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons. The ratification and implementation of this Convention would address most of the concerns raised above on IDPs..

    10. The existence of a legal protection instrument for African migrants at the same level as those for internally displaced persons and refugees in Africa is needed.

    11. An adequate strategy at the continental level to respond to the needs of African countries in the face of the global approach to migration.

     

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