Africa: Why the World Should Not Ignore Refugee Crisis

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Nowadays, the world is experiencing multiple challenges that shock its foundation. Recurrent and emerging conflicts and natural disasters have resulted in dire humanitarian crises. One of the most pressing global challenges is the refugee crisis.

In the current climate, the crisis hits its ultimate peak as people are fleeing for multiple reasons, but the major reason is that people are fleeing to save their lives. Conflicts and climate changes are the key factors that force people to leave their countries and settlements and find another safer place to live.

On the other hand, nations that are neighbors of the conflict-ridden areas also face similar challenges in receiving those refugees and providing basic support. At the heart of such situations is the IGAD region.

To be specific, the war in Sudan has posed a major humanitarian crisis that needs the attention of the international community and humanitarian assistance providers. According to the statistics from UNHCR, due to the conflict in Sudan, 8 million people have been displaced and fled to neighboring nations.

UNHCR, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi paid a three-day visit this week to witness the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia, supported by UNHCR and partners, to assist Sudanese refugees who have recently arrived in the country.

“Grandi traveled to Assosa, in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region, where he met some of the over 20,000 refugees and asylum-seekers currently hosted at the Kurmuk transit center. Since April 2023, over 100,000 people have crossed into Ethiopia from Sudan, including close to 47,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. These come in addition to some 50,000 Sudanese refugees already in the country,” the world’s refugee indicated in its press release.

The press release also discussed that idea of the High Commissioner stating “I heard stories of the heartbreaking loss of family, friends, homes and livelihoods, yet in the midst of this despair, I also saw refugees’ determination to move forward, if given the support and opportunity,” said Grandi.

Grandi expressed appreciation for the government as well as local communities for allocating land and welcoming those forced to flee despite their own challenges, including hosting a large refugee population, the press release discoursed.

“Ethiopia hosts one of the largest refugee and internally displaced populations globally. As the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, it is currently home to nearly 1 million refugees mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan, while an estimated 3.5 million Ethiopians are internally displaced.”

“Ethiopia’s continued generosity to the displaced, including those who have recently arrived from Sudan, is commendable and should be matched with even greater support from the international community. Without further donor support, it will be extremely difficult to deliver much-needed help to those who need it most,” Grandi added.

In a similar vein, Briefing journalists, the commissioner said that donors around the world should put their hands into supporting the refugees. “According to global statistics, 90 percent of refugees do not go to Europe or America; rather, they flee from one poor country to another poor country. The problem is for the poor countries; it is not for the rich nations.”

“The registered refugees in Ethiopia are nearly one million. With the country’s own challenges, it is a big burden for Ethiopia. Besides, due to a local conflict last year, Ethiopia received more than 100,000 Somalis,” said the commissioner.

Speaking of the Sudan conflict, the commissioner said the Sudan crisis caused an enormous humanitarian crisis, and millions were displaced and came to Ethiopia. This is poorly funded. Less than 36 percent was funded, and this is not acceptable. The international community cannot turn its back on the humanitarian responses to Sudan, including Ethiopia.

The Sudan refugee response is not fully funded. Refugees are moving on and Europeans complain that the people are coming. “If we do not put more into stabilizing, people will move easily. It is in the interest of the donors to stabilize the people,” Grandi added.

“Ethiopia has a good refugee policy,” adding that in the old days, refugees came and you created everything for them, but it could not be sustainable. However, Ethiopia says let refugees come and try to see how we can include them in our system. In the last years, Ethiopia allowed refugees to live and given assistance in achieving how we can sustain the lives of the people for a longer period. “Ethiopia is doing it, but it needs help because more people demand services. The international community must help Ethiopia,” adding that UNHCR is going to mobilize the funds directly from the UN, World Bank, and other organizations, but it is still not enough. We are not funded well in the matter. Responsible bodies must help Ethiopia as the influx of refugees is still increasing, the commissioner stated.

Similarly, he also added that food security is one thing to tackle, but the whole effort should be beyond the engagement. We have to look ahead and find a system. Let’s turn humanitarian assistance into something more sustainable. The most important is to give people food security not through handouts, but rather, through a more sustainable they can use when humanitarian assistance goes down.

Further, the commissioner has remembered it time spent with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD). Grandi mentioned that he discussed with the premier on the matter and internally displaced people in Ethiopia. “We will continue to advocate for more support from the international community for more aid,” said the commissioner.

Accordingly, Grandi elucidated that Ethiopia has played an important role in the Global Refugee Forum through good refugee policy. “I want to praise Ethiopia for this commitment and we stand right to support the government of Ethiopia through refugee returnees.”

The High Commissioner also noted that the problem is a big problem and it is also for Europeans that it is not their only problem. The main burden is on countries like Ethiopia because they are in a region that is very agitated. “If rich countries worry about the influx of refugees, then why don’t we do something to stabilize them by helping Ethiopia which has a good refugee policy? The time when refugees go somewhere and stay forever is finished.”

All in all, the issue of the refugee crisis needs due attention from every stakeholder in order to tackle further consequences. Due to the Sudan conflict, Ethiopia is tirelessly receiving refugees who need shelter and a safe environment. Ethiopia has proven itself by its historic hospitality. However, the country exerted its maximum energy to give the right response to the crisis, but it needs more support from the international community and organizations to achieve better responses.

Unlike other crises in the world, the Sudan conflict and the refugee challenges in Ethiopia are not entertained well by major media outlets, but it does not mean that it is forgotten or easy. In this regard, the world could not give its back on the Sudan conflict and the refugee crisis in Ethiopia. The world must know how bad situations are emerging in the region and act accordingly as soon as possible.