States work together to address displacement the Horn of Africa leading the way on the regional approach to the Global Compact on Refugees, IGAD launches Support Platform
Geneva, Switzerland 17 December 2019 – IGAD and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency jointly launched the IGAD Support Platform* on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, during a spotlight event moderated by Ambassador Mohamed Affey, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, just ahead of the first ever Global Refugee Forum.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the regional political body known as IGAD, which includes Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, has over the last three years worked with UNHCR and other key partners to commit to finding solutions for refugees and to encourage thematic approaches to supporting refugee and host communities in the areas of education, livelihoods and resilience and health.
In March 2017, the adoption of the Nairobi Declaration, by Heads of State of IGAD member countries, was a paradigm shift in addressing forced displacement and mixed migration from a humanitarian and security challenge, to a development challenge.
In the Nairobi Declaration each country made pledges to improve protection space and solutions for those displaced and to provide educational and economic opportunities for some four million refugees and forcibly displaced residing in the region. This was only a start of IGAD governments working together to take new and comprehensive approaches to long-term refugee crises. The Djibouti Declaration, signed in December 2017, standardizes education for refugees across the region; giving them a brighter future by increasing opportunities to attend tertiary schooling and university. In April of this year, IGAD member states signed the Kampala Declaration, which expanded economic and work opportunities for refugees and their hosts to boost local economies. The next thematic area to be tackled will be health in 2020.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the IGAD region has made an extraordinary effort in adopting and practicing some of the approaches the Global Compact on Refugees talks about. This was done well before the Compact was discussed and adopted by the General Assembly last year, said High Commissioner Filipo Grandi adding “this region and the countries in it are at the forefront of adopting new approaches to dealing with refugee situations.”
In Ethiopia, a new law allows refugees to open bank accounts and receive work permits. Uganda has gone beyond its long-standing policy of giving refugees land, allowing freedom of movement and the right to work and own businesses, as well as including refugees in their national education and healthcare plans. And in Somalia, the government has been making strides in improving governance and infrastructure, even as the country rebuilds after decades of instability and continued security challenges.
“With the launching of the IGAD Support Platform, we would like to reaffirm the commitment of the IGAD Secretariat, to continue facilitating the unprecedented success of the IGAD Nairobi process and to operationalize this Platform,” said Fathia Alwan, Director of Social Development at IGAD, speaking on behalf of Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary, IGAD.
The IGAD Support Platform consists of humanitarian and development organizations, private sector partners, and donors committing to show solidarity by providing concrete financial and development support to refugees in the East and Horn of Africa.
The IGAD Support Platform will:
- Galvanize political commitment and advocate for solutions;
- Mobilize financial, material and technical assistance;
- Maintain a high-level overview and ensure coherence of relevant humanitarian, development and peace initiatives in the region;
- Plays convening role, bringing together member states to provide an overview of gaps, challenges and progress made in the region for the Nairobi Process.
“Going forward, the work of the IGAD Support Platform to steer the implementation of pledges with the support of the international community, including the private sector, will be pivotal to harness global solidarity towards refugees, returnees and host communities residing in these countries,” said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UNHCR’s Regional Bureau Director for the East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes.
*Under the Global Compact on Refugees, Support Platforms are led by a group of States that are committed to providing support in solving complex or protracted refugee situations, along with other key players, including international finance institutions, development actors, the private sector and civil society. The Support Platform is a flexible modality for the provision of situation-specific support from the international community.
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