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African Union hosts special summit on the forcibly displaced

From October 19-23, 2009, the Ugandan capital of Kampala hosted an historic gathering of African leaders dedicated to the issue of forcibly displaced people. Heads of state and government from across the continent attended the meeting, which developed a plan of action and adopted a landmark Convention for the protection of internally displaced people across Africa. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres addressed the meeting as representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The summit was convened to address root causes and find solutions for displacement; identify ways of preventing forced displacement; improve protection for the forcibly displaced; strengthening measures to meet the specific needs of displaced women and children; devise strategies to reduce the impact of natural disasters as a cause for displacement of people; develop approaches to facilitate the rebuilding of communities emerging from conflict; and enhance partnerships in addressing forced displacement across Africa.

The gathering comes 40 years after the key Organization of African Unity Convention on refugee protection. On the last day of the Kampala meeting, the participants adopted the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, which is the first legally binding international instrument on internal displacement having such broad regional scope. The Convention will provide a comprehensive regional framework governing the protection and assistance of IDPs - before, during and after displacement.

The phenomenon of internal displacement continues to expand on the African continent, even as refugee numbers progressively decline. At the beginning of this year, Africa was home to an estimated 11.6 million internally displaced people (IDP), or about 45 percent of the world's IDPs. The continent also has some 2,659,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. Some 2 million people were newly displaced during the course of last year.

People of Concern in Africa

Statistics for the number of displaced people in Africa of concern to UNHCR

Mapping Africa's Displaced Rss FeedMapping Africa's Displaced

Comprehensive graphical data on populations of concern in the continent




Summit Special

Find out more about the Kampala gathering on the official summit site.

Photo Gallery: The Challenge of Forced Displacement in Africa

Africa is the continent most affected by the tragedy of forced displacement. While millions of refugees were able to return to Angola, Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda and South Sudan over the last 15 years, the numbers of internally displaced people continued to grow. At the beginning of 2009, in addition to some 2.3 million refugees, an estimated 11.6 million people were internally displaced by conflict in Africa.

To address forced displacement on the continent, the African Union is organizing a special summit on refugees, returnees and internally displaced people from October 19-23 in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Heads of state and government will look at the challenges and at ways to find solutions to forced displacement. They are also expected to adopt a Convention for the protection and assistance of internally displaced people (IDP) in Africa, which would be the first legally binding instrument on internal displacement with a continental scope. This photo gallery looks at some of the forcibly displaced around Africa, many of whom are helped by UNHCR.

Photo Gallery: The Challenge of Forced Displacement in Africa