The world has drawn constant inspiration from Africa’s leadership and vision towards finding lasting solutions to forced displacement, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has said.
“In the search for durable solutions to forced displacement, the world and, indeed, I personally have drawn constant inspiration from African leadership, African vision and African compassion,” Guterres told the opening session of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU), slated for Sunday and Monday at the headquarters of the AU in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
Noting that the African continent presently hosts nearly a third of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons, Guterres said that “despite the continent’s own social, economic and security challenges, Africa’s governments and people have kept borders, doors and hearts open to millions in need”.
“Africa has set the gold standard for solidarity,” Guterres said, as he singled out AU’s continental 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, which he said “goes beyond even the landmark 1951 Refugee Convention by expanding the definition of a refugee”.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, Sub-Saharan Africa currently hosts more than 26 percent of the world’s refugee population, while the number has soared in recent years, partly due to ongoing crises in the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria, South Sudan, as well as new conflicts that have erupted in Burundi and Yemen.
The UN chief also commended African leaders for their adoption of the 2009 Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons as “the first and only regional convention of its kind”.
According to Guterres, Africa’s leadership to secure the adoption of two pivotal global compacts last year on refugees and on safe, orderly and regular migration was vital.
“Over many years, it has become clear to me: Africa’s generosity to those seeking havens from war and persecution is unmatched,” the UN chief said, indicating that welcoming refugees and displaced people had not been the same case elsewhere.