The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), under the auspices of the African Union Commission (AUC), joined other regional groupings and representatives of Member States from the East African region in Arusha, Tanzania for a three days consultation for the development of a Common African Position on humanitarian effectiveness for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) that will take place in Istanbul, Turkey in May 2016. The Arusha meeting ran from 28 – 31 July.
The East African regional consultative meeting brought together Representatives from Regional Economic Communities and Member State senior officials dealing with humanitarian and forced displacement issues to stimulate discussion on challenges of the African humanitarian landscape as well as to provide a platform for re-examining the prevailing global and regional humanitarian architecture. Participants highlighted key elements to be included in the African Common Position.
The meeting appreciated IGAD’s role in peace making, building resilience of communities, and recognised IGAD’s role in creating safe corridors for the flow of remittances by establishing the Regional Remittances Initiative (RRI).
Addressing the participants on behalf of the Chairperson of the Sub-committee on refugees, returnees and Internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the Permanent representatives Committee (PRC), H.E Ambassador Manuel Goncalves, Ambassador of Mozambique to the AU recalled that the consultation aims to reflect and dialogue on the humanitarian situation in the East Africa region and to come up with important strategic issues affecting this region that need to be highlighted in the common African position. He further pointed out the necessity to have a holistic approach during the meeting by establishing a link between humanitarian and peace and security; humanitarian and governance; as well as humanitarian and development. “The search for durable solutions must remain at the center of our common position”, concluded the Ambassador.
Speaking on behalf of the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr Khabele Matlosa, Director for Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC) described the first ever WHS as a unique “opportunity for a real change in creating a system which is relevant, effective and fit for the future”. The development of an African Common Position should therefore be rooted in different AU frameworks such as the AU Constitutive Act, the Kampala convention for the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons in Africa the Agenda 2063 vision, and post 2015 Development Agenda among others. He also urged the participants to deliberate on humanitarian issues in line with the African ideals of Pan-Africanism and shared values, which emphasize solidarity among African countries. “Let us take this opportunity to affirm our sense of unity and ensure the place and role of Africa on the future global humanitarian arena.” he said.
In his submission, Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, IGAD’s Senior Humanitarian Advisor called on the delegates to come up with innovative proposals from the Africa region reflected in the recommendations which go to both the global consultation in Switzerland in October and to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next year. “This is the opportunity for the voice of the African people and the facts about its unique vulnerabilities and strengths to be reflected in the global discussions.” He said.