Central Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview

There are nearly a million refugees seeking protection in Cameroon, Chad, Republic of the Congo, and northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Darfur region of Sudan, and Nigeria have generated most of this displacement.  Many of these situations are protracted, with long-standing refugee populations unlikely to return in the immediate future due to insecurity in their home regions.

What are the major challenges in the region?

Insecurity in the CAR, northern Nigeria, and Darfur continues to prevent large-scale refugee returns.  According to international principles, all organized returns must be voluntary and conducted in safety and dignity.  Tripartite agreements with UNHCR have established frameworks for return (between Cameroon and Nigeria and between Chad and Sudan), however voluntary returns to date have been limited.  There have been instances of forced return of Nigerian asylum-seekers from Cameroon.  Local integration is challenging due to limited resources in host communities.

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), 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.

Where does PRM work in the region?

The Central Africa Regional Refugee Coordinator is based in N’Djamena Chad and is responsible for Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Congo.

Great Lakes

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview

PRM supports programs across the entire Great Lakes region — Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

What are the major challenges in the region?

DRC: Ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to affect civilians.  Nearly 4.5 million people are displaced internally and refugee flows from the DRC, now more than 800,000 individuals, impact the entire region and beyond.

Burundi: Hundreds of thousands of Burundi refugees have fled election-related violence since April 2015. Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC have received most of the Burundi refugees.  Tens of thousands are displaced internally, although the exact number is unknown.  On September 7, 2017, UNHCR, in coordination with the Governments of Burundi and Tanzania, started a Voluntary Repatriation Operation from Tanzania.  While large-scale organized return to Burundi remains unlikely given ongoing insecurity, UNHCR is working to assist those refugees who request return assistance.  As the pressure from Tanzanian officials on Burundi refugees increases, the U.S. continues to stress that any returns be voluntary, sustainable, and conducted in safety and dignity.

Central Africa: The DRC has received more than 170,000 Central African refugees since the onset of the Seleka rebellion in late 2012.  Refugees are in remote northern DRC where the logistics of providing assistance are extremely challenging.

South Sudan: Since July 2016, more than 780,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda, joining others who arrived after war broke out in late 2013. South Sudanese 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 Bidibidi, Palorinya, Imvepi, 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.  At well more than a million refugees, Uganda now hosts the largest refugee population in Africa and the third largest globally, behind Turkey and Pakistan.

In general, ensuring adequate protection and assistance for refugees and other conflict victims is a priority 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. We are help ensure the voluntary, dignified return and reintegration of refugees, and help 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 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (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.

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?

Eritreans: There are more than 310,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, and Djibouti. These refugees—as well as the host communities—face a range of other hardships from acute poverty, drought and risk of famine, and lack of access to healthcare and education. Additionally, Eritreans seeking to migrate to other countries regularly fall prey to exploitative human trafficking networks..

Somalis: There are approximately 806,000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, and Eritrea, while more than 2.6 million Somalis are internally displaced. In addition, some 4.6 million Somalis are experiencing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity and the UN has reported high levels of malnutrition throughout the country. Insecurity in conflict areas and ongoing military operations against al-Shabaab continues to hinder humanitarian access to people in need in southern and central Somalia.

South Sudanese: More than 1.8 million South Sudanese are internally displaced and more than 2 million are refugees in neighboring countries due to the ongoing insecurity and humanitarian crisis. While refugee reception in neighboring countries is 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 created more than 600,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled to Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and beyond. In addition, there are more than 2 million IDPs in Darfur and the Two Areas.

How does PRM help?

PRM provides diplomatic and financial support to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to deliver humanitarian assistance to crisis affected people in the region. In addition, PRM funds several NGOs to support vulnerable people across the Horn of Africa.

Where does PRM work in the region?

PRM has a Regional Refugee Coordinator at Embassy Addis Ababa in Ethiopia who is the policy lead and monitors 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 psychosocial support.  Egypt also hosts significant numbers of Sub-Saharan refugees, many of whom are very vulnerable and have limited access to support and other resources.

Libya:  Eight years after the 2011 civil conflict that led to the downfall of Muammar Qadhafi in Libya, the country remains without an accepted and fully functional government.  Thousands of Libyans have been internally displaced from their homes due to ongoing violence, and when returning to their communities, they often find their houses looted or destroyed, and they have limited access to basic social services.  UNHCR, IOM, and other 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 food insecure, and finding 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 operations of UNICEF and WFP.

Vulnerable Migrants:  Thousands of irregular migrants travel to Europe via the Western and Central Mediterranean routes (more than 145,000 in 2017 and  85,000 in 2018), and thousands more migrate to and through North African countries for other reasons.  Many migrants and asylum seekers – Syrian and African alike – 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 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 2018, 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 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (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, 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 assist and protect conflict victims, 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.

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 and the Amman-based Regional Refugee Coordinator monitor PRM-funded programs in North Africa.

Southern Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview

PRM supports programs for refugees, migrants, and conflict victims in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

What are the major challenges in the region?

Southern African countries receive refugees fleeing political unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi along with mixed migrant/refugee flows primarily originating in the Horn and Central Africa.  Protracted displacement and lack of durable solutions 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 Democratic Republic of Congo.  Zimbabweans continue to cross the borders into South Africa and Botswana, the majority seeking economic opportunities.

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), as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to refugees and support refugee hosting communities.  PRM also works with UNHCR, IOM, and NGOs in South 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 assist and protect conflict victims, to promote international humanitarian law, 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.

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 does not have a Regional Refugee Coordinator in Southern Africa.  PRM’s Africa office in Washington monitors programs with assistance from Refugee Officers at our embassies with guidance from PRM.

West Africa

Migration and Refugee Crisis Overview

PRM supports efforts to protect and assist refugees throughout West Africa, including 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 refugees in neighboring Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger are a primary concern.  More recently, increasing insecurity and related displacement in Burkina Faso has added to concerns.  UNHCR, ICRC, and other international organizations and NGOs are providing emergency assistance to 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.

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 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), The World Food Program (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (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 stay to establishing camps to distributing food and household items such as blankets and pots and pans.  In addition, UNHCR 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.

Where does PRM work in the region?

The West Africa Regional Refugee Coordinator is based out of Dakar, Senegal and is responsible for Benin, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, 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

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