Migration and displacement in Sub-Saharan Africa - The security - Migration nexus II

from Bonn International Center for Conversion
Published on 06 May 2009 View Original
Contrary to the still prevailing belief caused by sometimes one-sided media coverage that a large share of African migrants relocate to Europe or the developed states in the North, research has shown that this is not the case. Only 1.5 percent of all Sub-Saharan Africans, living outside their country, live within the European Union. More than two-thirds of all migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, however, migrate to other countries within Sub-Saharan Africa (approximately 16.3 million).

Sub-Saharan Africa is also a region characterized by high numbers of forced migrants. It has the world's highest concentration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and hosts approximately 20 percent of the world's refugee population. In the region, we find both sending and receiving states. We also find states that are both, or that are transit countries. Tanzania, Chad and Uganda are amongst the top ten refugee-hosting countries worldwide. Cameroon, Sudan and Kenya are amongst the countries in Africa that hosted the highest amount of new refugees in 2007. 17 African states have refugee populations of more than 50,000 persons each.

Flight and expulsion, particularly as a consequence of armed conflicts, influence the development, stability and security of the states concerned and give rise to great challenges for action by policymakers at all levels and international humanitarian assistance.

Nearly to the day one year ago, in February 2008, experts from research, politics and civil society gathered in Bonn to discuss the "Security-Migration Nexus", challenges and opportunities of migration from Africa to Europe. Following these discussions on the nexus between security and migration, BICC, the Bonn International Center for Conversion organized this second international conference, entitled "Migration and Displacement in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Security- Migration Nexus II" which was dedicated to forced migration within the Global South. The event was held in Bonn from 13-14 February 2009 and was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Just under 200 national and international experts from academia, political and civil society institutions gathered and discussed the issue of forced migration in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The first conference day, which started with a comprehensive and thought-provoking keynote speech by Prof. John Oucho was dedicated to discussing causes and different shapes of forced migration in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as the humanitarian, social and legal consequences for those affected and the repercussions resulting from forced migration, resettlement and return on social, political and economic conditions in the countries of the regions.

The second conference day followed up on these debates by focusing on the policy agenda and concrete instruments in migration governance at the national and regional level. African organizations, such as ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) and the African Union have recognized the importance of the refugee issue. This is why the African Union has called for an extraordinary summit on refugees, returnees and IDPs which will take place in April 2009 and which will probably adopt an AU IDPs Convention.

On a final panel, representatives of international organizations as well as civil society groups and development cooperation actors shared their experiences and perspectives in the field of forced migration and discussed the role third parties can play in refugee emergencies.

This year BICC will celebrate its 15th anniversary. Since its inception in 1994, BICC has continuously developed its work with regard to the national and international agenda. With applied research, advisory services, capacity-building and public relations, BICC promotes and facilitates peace and development.

Today, our work includes areas such as "Resources and Conflict", "Arms: global trends, exports and control", "Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)", "Base Conversion", "Development and Peace" and last but not least "Migration and Conflict". Within this field, BICC carries out applied research on the nexus between migration and security. It provides fora for the discussion of challenges of migration and displacement in Sub-Saharan Africa and studies patterns, trends and potential of diaspora engagement.

BICC, as a peace and conflict research organization intends to discuss flight and expulsion from the perspective of security. The topic of migration and security has turned into a great challenge. The receiving countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, master huge tasks which neither research nor politics have been able to address adequately so far. This conference intended to give a new impulse to this discussion. At the same time it has to be taken into account that too much of a focus on the security implications for states contributes to a one-sided focus that makes the (security) needs of (forced) migrants appear secondary.

This BICC brief documents the papers and speeches presented and the results of the lively panel discussions during the conference. We hope that this publication will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the complex causes, faces, and consequences of forced migration and will foster an open dialogue between all stakeholders-migrants, countries of origin and destination countries of forced migrants, the international humanitarian regime and development cooperation actors alike.

Inspired by the conference, BICC will build up a network of researches and practitioners for sharing ideas and fostering cooperation in the field of migration and joint research on the national and international level. BICC is also planning to organize other workshops on migration issues in the course of the year and is aiming to organize a follow-up conference in about a year's time.

Peter J. Croll
Director BICC