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Central Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview 

There are over one million refugees  in Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic (CAR) Armed conflict in the CAR, the Darfur region of Sudan, and the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) – consisting of Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad – have generated most of this displacement.  Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria since 2009 have killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions within Nigeria, and forced Nigerian refugees to flee to  neighboring Niger, Cameroon, and Chad.  Displacement from internal strife in Cameroon is also a significant  factor in the region.  Many of these situations are protracted, with long-standing refugee populations unlikely to return in the near future due to insecurity in their home regions. 

What are the major challenges in the region? 

Longstanding conflict over land use between farmers and herders in Chad, has only worsened in recent years as climate change drives herders further south to fertile farmland.  Erratic rains across the LCB have made it increasingly harder for the population to feed itself.   Boko Haram attacks have pushed populations into  the LCB.  The security situation has limited humanitarian assistance agencies’ ability to reach and assist displaced populations,  a situation that shows no signs of abating.  In CAR, rebel groups control over 75 percent of the country’s territorymaking it difficult for aid workers to safely deliver much needed assistance.  Overall, the number of people forcibly displaced or in need of humanitarian assistance has never been higher: from the Central Sahel to the LCB, 5.3 million people are uprooted and in CAR more than half the population (2.8 million) need international aid.    Despite these record numbers,  the UN continues to experience significant funding shortfalls.  As a result of these shortfalls, standards of assistance are declining.  Without sufficient resources, the crisis will further escalate, eroding communities’ resilience and putting millions more people at risk.   

Insecurity in the CAR, LCB, and Darfur region also prevents refugees from returning home.  Tripartite agreements with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have established frameworks for return that are voluntary, safe, and dignified between Cameroon and Nigeria, between Cameroon and CAR, and between Chad and Sudan.  Despite these frameworks, voluntary returns to date have been limited.  Many CAR refugees have been displaced in Cameroon for 15 years and show little desire to return, particularly following the December 2020 uptick in violence that pushed an additional 117,000 CAR refugees into neighboring countries.  Furthermore, local integration is challenging due to limited resources in host communities. 

How does PRM help? 

PRM funds international organizations, such as UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to asylum seekers, refugees, conflict victims, and refugee hosting communities.  In several countries, PRM also supports other international organizations and non-governmental organizations to complement the efforts of UNHCR and ICRC assisting refugees and vulnerable persons in refugee-hosting communities.  PRM also works with humanitarian organization partners, host governments, and other donors to coordinate an efficient and effective response to humanitarian crises in the region. 

In 2020 and 2021, PRM provided support to several international organizations to respond to COVID-19 challenges affecting refugee populations. 

PRM also supports small NGO projects in the region through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees. 

Where does PRM work in the region? 

PRM’s Central Africa Regional Refugee Coordinator will be located in Abuja, Nigeria starting in Fall 2021 and is responsible for Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria. 

Great Lakes

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview 

PRM supports programs across the Great Lakes region — Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

What are the major challenges in the region? 

Burundi: Hundreds of thousands of Burundi refugees  fled election-related violence in April 2015, primarily to Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC.  After the May 2020 election, voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees began to increase throughout the region, primarily facilitated under Tripartite Agreements between the governments of Burundi, Tanzania, DRC, and Rwanda, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  The United States continues to stress that any returns should be voluntary, and conducted in safety and dignity.   

Uganda: Since July 2016, more than 900,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda, joining other South Sudanese who arrived after war broke out in late 2013.  South Sudanese refugees reside in settlements across six districts of northern Uganda, as well as in Kampala.  In order to accommodate the mass influx of South Sudanese, Uganda expanded existing settlements and established four new settlements since August 2016, including BidibidiPalorinyaImvepi, and Palabek Despite the mass influx of refugees since 2016, Uganda has continued to uphold its generous refugee policies, allowing freedom of movement and access to land, livelihoods opportunities, and basic services.  However, the size and quality of plots have decreased, food rations have been cut, and basic standards of assistance are challenging to reach due to strained resources.  With  over 1.4 million refugees, Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa and the fourth largest globally. 

In general, ensuring adequate protection and assistance for refugees and other conflict victims is a priority and a challenge in the Great Lakes region.  Prevention of and response to gender-based violence (GBV), promoting and maintaining humanitarian assistance for beneficiaries, and meeting the protection needs of urban refugees and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees are some of many specific policy issues for the region.  PRM also helps ensure the voluntary, safe, and dignified return and reintegration of refugees, and helps identify other durable solutions for refugees in protracted situations.  Financial support and humanitarian diplomacy are critical components of this effort. 

How does PRM help? 

PRM funds international organizations, such as the UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to refugees and support refugee hosting communities.  PRM also works with humanitarian organization partners, host governments, and other donors to coordinate an efficient and effective response to humanitarian crises in the region. 

In 2020 and 2021, PRM provided support to several international organizations to respond to COVID-19 challenges affecting refugee populations. 

PRM also supports small NGO projects in many countries in the region through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees. 

Where does PRM work in the region? 

PRM has a Regional Refugee Coordinator office at Embassy Kampala in Uganda.  There, a Senior Refugee Coordinator oversees policy and monitors assistance programs for the entire region, and the Deputy covers refugee admissions for the Great Lakes Region and West Africa. 

Horn of Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview 

PRM supports programs that respond to various flows of people across the Horn of Africa, including to and through Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan. 

What are the major challenges in the region? 

Ethiopians:  Conflict that erupted in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in November 2020 has resulted in a human rights and humanitarian crisis and led to the internal displacement of approximately two million people and forced tens of thousands of Ethiopians to flee to Sudan.  Conflict and displacement is also increasing in Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia, Somali, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ regions.  There are an estimated two million IDPs in Ethiopia outside of the Tigray region.  Since January, violence in the Benishangul-Gumuz region has forced 7,200 people to flee to Sudan.  

Eritreans: There are more than 320,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, and Djibouti. Eritreans seeking to migrate to other countries regularly fall prey to exploitative human trafficking networks.  Since November 2020, Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region of Ethiopia have been the target of violence and severe human rights abusesincluding killings, targeted abductions, forced returns to Eritrea, and gender-based violence.   

Somalis: There are approximately 650,000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, and Eritrea, while nearly three million Somalis are internally displaced.  Some six million Somalis are in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country. Insecurity in conflict areas and ongoing military operations against al-Shabaab continue to hinder humanitarian access to people in need in southern and central Somalia. 

South Sudanese: More than 1.6 million South Sudanese are internally displaced and more than 2.2 million are refugees in neighboring countries due to the ongoing insecurity and humanitarian crisis. While refugee reception in neighboring countries is generally well organized, the humanitarian response is strained by insufficient resources to address the needs of the already large refugee populations from multiple countries in the region. 

Sudanese: Ongoing insecurity in Darfur as well as the Two Areas (Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states) has forced more than 764,000 Sudanese refugees to flee to Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and beyond.  In addition, there are more than 2.5 million internally displaced persons  in Darfur and the Two Areas. 

How does PRM help? 

PRM funds international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to deliver humanitarian assistance to crisis affected people in the region.  In addition, PRM funds NGOs to support vulnerable people across the Horn of Africa. 

In 2020 and 2021, PRM provided support to several international organizations to respond to COVID-19 challenges affecting refugee populations. 

PRM also supports small NGO projects in the region through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees. 

Where does PRM work in the region? 

PRM has a Regional Refugee Coordinator and an Assistant Refugee Coordinator at Embassy Addis Ababa in Ethiopia who conduct refugee and humanitarian diplomacy and monitor assistance programs for Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan.  PRM has a Deputy Regional Refugee Coordinator at Embassy Nairobi in Kenya who monitors assistance programs in Kenya and Somalia. 

Northern Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview 

PRM supports protection and assistance programs for refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, and vulnerable migrants throughout North Africa, including in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. 

What are the major challenges in the region? 

Egypt:  The majority of the thousands of Syrian refugees in North Africa are in Egypt.  Egypt has been relatively welcoming to Syrians, but funding gaps remain for PRM partners, especially in the areas of education, livelihoods, healthcare, and mental health and psychosocial support. Egypt also hosts significant numbers of Sub-Saharan refugees, many of whom are very vulnerable and have limited access to basic social services and livelihoods. 

Libya:    Over half a million vulnerable migrants and nearly 50,000 refugees and asylum-seekers currently reside in Libya.   In the absence of a national asylum system, many find themselves in unsafe and exploitative conditions due to violence and insecurity.  Hundreds of thousands of Libyans are currently displaced from their homes due to the violence and the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.  When returning to their communities, they often find their houses looted or destroyed, and they have limited access to basic social services.  United National High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other PRM partners work to provide essential household items, food, medical supplies and training, and limited protection for migrants, refugees, and internally displaced Libyans. 

Algeria:  Algeria hosts a large population of Sahrawi refugees who were displaced from Western Sahara in the 1970s as a result of a conflict with Morocco.  PRM’s partners have identified more than 100,000 people among this population who are either vulnerable to food insecurity or are food insecureFinding durable solutions for this population has been challenging given political sensitivities.  PRM supports protection and assistance for refugees in Algeria primarily through contributions to UNHCR, and with occasional support to  World Food Program (WFP) projects. 

Vulnerable Migrants:  Thousands of irregular migrants travel to Europe via the Western and Central Mediterranean routes , and thousands more migrate to and through North African countries for other reasons.  Many migrants and asylum seekers fall victim to egregious abuses along the way, including unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention, gang rape, slavery, forced labor, and extortion.  Libya continues to serve as a transit point to Europe for African migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, and violence and insecurity, coupled with the lack of a national asylum system, drives desperate migrants to flee to Europe via dangerous waters in unsafe vessels.  The number of migrants who have died attempting the crossing has decreased from a high of over 5,000 in 2016, but is again on the risewith  over 1,400 deaths in 2020. The number of migrants who die in the desert trying to reach northern Libya is unknown but analysts believe it could be far higher than the number who perish at sea.  Irregular migration on the Western Mediterranean route between Spain and Morocco increased significantly in 2020, as migrants from West Africa have begun opting for this route over Libya.  The route has become increasingly dangerous as well.  Algeria is also a transit and destination country for an unknown but significant number of vulnerable migrants. 

How does PRM help? 

PRM funds international organizations, such as the UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, asylum seekers, and vulnerable migrants.  PRM also works with UNHCR, IOM, and NGOs in North Africa to address the challenges of urban refugee and migrant protection, advocating on their behalf for greater access to legal and social services. 

PRM supports the efforts of ICRC  to promote international humanitarian law, and to build the capacities of national Red Cross societies across North Africa to better respond to victims of conflict as well as natural disasters. 

In 2020 and 2021, PRM provided support to several international organizations to respond to COVID-19 challenges affecting refugee populations.  

PRM also supports small NGO projects in the region through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees. 

Where does PRM work in the region? 

PRM Washington staff, together with Dakar- and Amman-based Regional Refugee Coordinators monitor PRM-funded programs in North Africa. 

Southern Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview 

PRM supports programs for asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, and conflict victims in Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, EswatiniLesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Island Nations (Comoros, Seychelles, and Mauritius). 

What are the major challenges in the region? 

Southern African countries receive refugees fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) along with mixed migrant/refugee flows primarily originating in the Horn and Central Africa, including the Central African Republic.  In addition, there are Burundian and Rwandan refugees who remain in the region after fleeing waves of violence that datback decades.  Protracted displacement,  limited durable solution options, continued funding shortfalls, and assistance below international standards are the main challenges in Southern Africa.  With the end of the Angolan civil war in 2002, most Angolan refugees returned home, although residual populations remain in Zambia, Namibia, and the DRC, as do residual Rwandan populations despite cessation of refugee status in several countries.  Zimbabweans in significant numbers cross borders into South Africa and Botswana, in mixed-migration flows.  Ongoing violence in eastern DRC as well as communal conflict in other regions has led to more than 5.2 million internally displaced persons in DRC.  Most recently, violence in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado tied to a terrorist insurgency has led to more than 700,000 internally displaced persons in need of protection and assistance as of June 2021.   

How does PRM help? 

PRM funds international organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),  to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to asylum seekers, refugees, conflict victims, and refugee hosting communities.  In several countries, PRM also supports non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to complement the efforts of international organizations assisting refugees and vulnerable persons in refugee-hosting communities.  PRM works with International Organization for Migration (IOM) to address  migration challenges, including protection of vulnerable migrants across the region.  PRM supports the efforts of ICRC  to promote international humanitarian law, to improve conditions for detained individuals, and to build the capacities of national Red Cross societies in Southern Africa to better respond to victims of conflict as well as natural disasters.   

In 2020 and 2021, PRM provided support to several international organizations to respond to COVID-19 challenges affecting refugee populations. 

PRM also supports small NGO projects in many countries the region through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees. 

Where does PRM work in the region? 

PRM established a Regional Refugee Coordinator in Pretoria, South Africa  in July 2020.  The Regional Refugee Coordinator and PRM’s Africa office in Washington monitor programs across the region with assistance from Refugee Officers at our embassies. 

West Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview 

PRM supports efforts to protect and assist refugees throughout West Africa, including in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. 

What are the major challenges in the region? 

The Sahel:  Internally displaced Malians and Malian refugees in neighboring Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger are a primary concern.  Insecurity and related displacement in Burkina Faso and Niger have added to a complex regional displacement crisis.  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other international organizations and NGOs are providing emergency assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, however insecurity impedes humanitarian access to populations of concern in the Sahel region.  The crises are compounded by ongoing food insecurity in the Sahel exacerbated by climate change.. 

Lake Chad Basin Crisis: Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria since 2009 have killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions within Nigeria, and forced Nigerian refugees to flee to neighboring Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. Boko Haram has also launched cross border attacks into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, causing significant internal displacement and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region.  The UN and partner aid organizations are responding to humanitarian needs in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries, but there are major gaps in the response, which is hampered by insecurity as well as logistical challenges as a result of the remote locations of some IDPs and refugees. 

Ivorian Refugees: In the wake of electoral violence that followed presidential elections in late 2010, Côte d’Ivoire saw significant displacement as some 300,000 refugees fled to neighboring countries, with Liberia, Ghana, and Togo receiving the largest inflows.  In addition, hundreds of thousands of Ivoirians were internally displaced.  With stability in Côte d’Ivoire, most refugees and IDPs returned to their homes and UNHCR continues to conduct facilitated voluntary repatriation of Ivoirian refugees. 

How does PRM help? 

PRM works closely with UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), The World Food Program (WFP) and ICRC in West Africa.  These organizations provide protection and assistance for refugees and conflict-affected populations and sustain assistance and protection space for IDPs.  This includes activities ranging from assuring that there is a safe place for people to stayestablishing camps, and distributing food and household items, such as blankets and pots and pans.  UNHCR also supports the voluntary facilitated return of Ivoirian refugees. 

In addition, PRM funds NGOs that provide humanitarian assistance and protection to Malian refugees and Nigerian refugees. 

In 2020 and 2021, PRM provided support to several international organizations to respond to COVID-19 challenges affecting refugee populations. 

PRM also supports small NGO projects in the region through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees. 

Where does PRM work in the region? 

The West Africa Regional Refugee Coordinator is based in Dakar, Senegal and is responsible for Benin, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria (through summer 2021), Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.  PRM’s Africa office in Washington also monitors programs, with assistance from refugee officers at our embassies in the region who receive guidance from PRM. 

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future