The African Union (AU) Humanitarian Symposium was initiated in 2010, as a forum that brings together the AU Commission, Member States and Partners to deliberate and exchange views on pertinent issues impacting on the humanitarian situation in the continent.
This year, the 9th Humanitarian Symposium is dedicated to the preparations for the 2022 Continental Humanitarian Summit to be convened in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
Within this context, the AU Commission held a planning meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 23-25 November. The Symposium drew high level participants from different humanitarian agencies, AU Member States, international and national organizations, NGOs, affected communities including representatives of refugee communities and other stakeholders. The Symposium provided a platform for engagement at a continental level on humanitarian issues, including Addressing nutrition and food security challenges in humanitarian space; addressing climate change, disasters and displacements in Africa; Addressing COVID-19 and health challenges in humanitarian space in Africa; Encouraging Art, Culture and Heritage of displaced persons and developing strategies for Humanitarian Financing. The main objective of the meeting is to contribute to the preparations for the forthcoming Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference scheduled to be held in 2022. During the opening ceremony Dr Margaret Agama-Anyetei, Acting. Director of Health and Humanitarian Affairs Directorate of the African Union Commission (AUC) delivered opening remarks on behalf of Her Excellency Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs & Social Development (HHS). She welcomed all participants to the 9th African Union Humanitarian Symposium. She took the participants through the roadmap and framework towards the Humanitarian Summit. Dr Margaret Agama added further “This Symposium and the subsequent Continental Humanitarian Summit will take place against a backdrop marked by a rapidly changing landscape and an unprecedented humanitarian concern. With close to 23 million refugees and internally displaced persons, Africa remains at the center of humanitarian action. This trend is likely to grow even bigger in proportion given the changing nature of patterns of displacement occasioned by effects of conflicts, climate change and natural disasters”.
Dr Margaret Agama noted that several situations of forced displacement on the African continent have remained protracted for many years and reiterated the call for renewed efforts to resolve them. “A recent upsurge in extremism, armed conflicts, and fundamentalism pose new threats. The latest displacement trends for 2020 shows that, the number of people fleeing effects of climate change, conflict driven violence, persecution, human rights violations, and others causes in Africa rose to nearly 35.5 million. There is increased mobility of both migrants and refugees from 65% to 75%. The effects of the pandemic have worsened the humanitarian situation response for populations throughout the continent by exacerbating the displacement situation and leaving populations with little or no resilience to cope with social and economic realisms,” said Dr Agama.
In his welcoming remarks during the meeting, H.E. Adekunle Joliff King, Ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Chairperson of PRC Sub-Committee of Refugees, Returnees and IDPs noted that the year 2021 has been a year fraught with challenges globally and especially on the African Continent. He noted that the new phenomenon of climate change is creating high levels of both internal and external displacements in different African Union member states.
"We at the PRC Sub Committee for Refugees are faced with new challenges in responding to these continental challenges and most of all in determining the root causes and finding durable solutions to both protracted displacement crises and mitigation of climate change displacement,” said Amb. King. He further added that “In this year the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) has approved Humanitarian Assessment missions to 14 Member States with the aim of assessing member states within the ambits of the African Union frameworks of 1969 OAU Convention “Governing Specifics Aspects of a Refugee”, the 2009 Kampala Convention on the protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons and the Sendai framework. We also gave and increase our solidarity gesture from 100,000.00 USD to 150,000.00USD to twelve affected member states who m suffered from humanitarian crises and displacements due to natural and man - made disasters and conflict driven displacements”.
Amb. King concluded by emphasizing the importance of the meeting to plan for current actions for durable solutions to the deepening humanitarian crises on the continent.
The expected outcomes from this meeting will include: Strengthen existing partnerships and identify new areas of synergy and complementary among stakeholders; Update existing roadmap for the Humanitarian Summit; Share experiences and knowledge to inform humanitarian response and to guide future challenges; Review best practices, innovative approaches, search for Africa’s solutions in addressing climate change in the humanitarian space; and increase advocacy on African Humanitarian Agency to partners and donors.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union (AU).