August 16, 2019
UNHCR Representative Cosmas Chanda, Amb. of Ireland to Ethiopia and the African Union – Sonja Hyland, and Senior Project Coordinator – Joyce Mends-Cole during the dialogue session with refugee and returnee women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has commended Ireland for donating 200,000 euros to ensure the active participation of forcibly displaced African women in activities and events being held this year by the African Union (AU) under its theme of the year: “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.”
The support of the Irish government was instrumental in the recent success of a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which brought together 15 refugee and returnee women from nine African countries to discuss the challenges they faced from forcible displacement. This meeting and others this year, will give forcibly displaced women a voice to discuss and find solutions to their situations.
The women taking part in the dialogue issued a statement calling, among other things, for the empowerment of women, their participation in peace processes, greater access to quality education, the removal of barriers to employment and livelihood opportunities, access to psycho-social support for trauma, and further dialogues at a time when forced displacement continues to grow.
UNHCR figures show that in 2018 the number of forcibly displaced people topped 70 million and that Africa is the worst affected region with more than a third of the world’s forcibly displaced.
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Africa hosts about 7.4 million refugees and asylum seekers and 17.8 million internally displaced persons.
Cosmas Chanda, the UNHCR Representative to the African Union, thanked the Government of Ireland for its continuing generous support on behalf of women and girls in Africa. “This grant will offer an increased understanding of the gender-differentiated impact of displacement, promote women’s voices and spur action to address root causes and prevent forced displacement in Africa,” he said.
As well as promoting its theme for 2019, the AU, in coordination with UNHCR and other partners, is also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention and the 10th anniversary of the 2009 AU Convention on Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention. The AU and its partners, including UNHCR, are currently undertaking several commemorative events across the continent.