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Update on UNHCR's operations in Africa - 2010

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Regional update - Africa

Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme

Sixty-first session

Geneva, 4-8 October 2010

This update presents some examples of challenges, progress and developments in the region since the last strategic overview presented to the 47th meeting of the Standing Committee in March 2010. A more comprehensive report will be provided in the forthcoming Global Appeal 2011 Update.

A. Major challenges and new developments

During the first eight months of 2010, Africa witnessed a number of complex humanitarian and emergency situations, which caused new displacement. Positive developments during this period include the ongoing naturalization of Burundian refugees in the United Republic of Tanzania and the start of the ratification process by States of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.

Security and humanitarian conditions in south and central Somalia steadily deteriorated. Violence in Mogadishu continued unabated, causing further displacement inside Somalia and across the borders. Since the beginning of the year, more than 60,000 Somalis have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries, straining services and facilities in the already overcrowded camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. In light of this, UNHCR prepared a regional contingency plan for which resource requirements were presented to the international community in May 2010 through a supplementary appeal.

The expansion of Ifo camp in Dadaab, Kenya, progressed with the construction of essential infrastructure. In Djibouti, the Government agreed to a new site that will allow the Office to improve standards of assistance to new arrivals from Somalia and help decongest the existing camp. In Ethiopia, four refugee camps were opened in the Dollo Ado area to accommodate the ongoing arrivals from Somalia.

Sudan remains at the centre of the largest humanitarian operation in Africa. In Darfur, insecurity and reduced humanitarian space continue to present the main challenges. The recent series of expulsions and kidnappings of a number of aid workers had a negative impact on the implementation capacity of humanitarian organizations in the region. Meanwhile, the national elections which took place in April were a critical milestone, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is entering its most crucial phase with the forthcoming referendum scheduled for January 2011.

The referendum will give the people of Southern Sudan the choice between independence or continuation as part of a single, centralized Sudanese State. UNHCR is watching these political developments closely so as to be prepared in case of any ensuing population movements and in light of the potential for certain population groups to become stateless.

Hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular in parts of the Kivus, Province Orientale, Maniema and northern Katanga, have led to further and integration measures for the 162,000 former Burundian refugees who have now become Tanzanian citizens.

Resettlement

Making resettlement a viable and meaningful component of comprehensive protection strategies in Africa continues to be a primary objective for UNHCR. Diversifying both the nationalities of refugees considered for resettlement and the location of UNHCR's resettlement activities remain key goals in Africa. In order to respond more effectively to protracted refugee situations on the continent, significant efforts have been made to assure adequate levels of resettlement staff. As a result, since the start of the year, nearly 11,000 refugees have been referred for resettlement. UNHCR will continue to focus on populations such as Somalis, Eritreans and Sudanese from Darfur, for whom resettlement is often the only option.