States pledge concerted action for CAR refugees and IDPs
16 May 2022
Countries affected by one of Africa’s most protracted displacement crises have agreed to work together to provide solutions for the 1.4 million persons
Countries affected by one of Africa’s most protracted displacement crises have agreed to work together to provide solutions for the 1.4 million persons displaced by years of political instability in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The commitment was made in Yaounde, in a Declaration signed by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan, at the end of a three-day regional aimed at finding solutions for CAR refugees and IDPs.
"This conference represents a crucial first step, laying the groundwork for a process that will strengthen the international protection of Central African refugees, and identify and implement solutions for one of the most protracted displacement crises in Africa,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi, who attended the conference while on a working visit to Cameroon.
Co-hosted by the Government of Cameroon and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the conference brought together about 300 persons representing the countries hosting CAR refugees, development and humanitarian organizations, refugees, as well as donors.
Since 2013, more than 700,000 people have fled from the Central African Republic into Cameroon, DRC, Chad, Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan, with Cameroon hosting about 46 percent of the refugees. Another 700,000 are internally displaced in CAR.
Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute saluted the efforts of these countries but said considering the challenges that come with hosting large numbers of refugees in difficult economic conditions, it is necessary “to pool efforts in a framework of a regional approach to define global and concerted solutions in order to obtain better results.”
The signatories to the Yaounde Declaration therefore agreed to work together to strengthen asylum systems in countries hosting Central African refugees and asylum seekers, improve socio-economic inclusion and encourage self-reliance rather than humanitarian assistance. They also agreed to facilitate voluntary returns to CAR for refugees, in safety and dignity, while supporting their reintegration.
In the Declaration, the signatories pledged to establish a "solutions-oriented follow-up and coordination mechanism" according to commitments in the Global Compact on Refugees, with the European Union and the Economic Community of Central African States promising to support its creation.
Mr Grandi underlined the commitment of UNHCR and the UN to supporting the governments and people affected by this and other crises in Africa, “even as other major crises capture the attention and the resources of the world.”
The CAR Minister for Humanitarian Action, Virginie Baikoua, expressed the gratitude of the Central African people for the international support and stated her country’s determination to restore peace and stability.
In a meeting with the High Commissioner in Yaounde, CAR refugee representatives from all over Cameroon welcomed the focus on their plight and have declared their readiness to contribute to solutions.