UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Africa: Refugee Updates Date distributed (ymd): 000914 Document reposted by APIC
Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents:
This posting contains two recent updates on displaced people in Africa from the U.S. Committee for Refugees, one highlighting the additional displacement of at least 1.5 million people in the first eight months of 2000, and the other focusing on recent harassment of refugees in Guinea (Conakry). The updates also note the U.S. Congress is about to cut assistance to African refugees to the lowest levels in more than a decade.
For additional information, including an extensive database organized by country, see the U.S. Committee for Refugees website at http://www.refugees.org
U.S. Committee for Refugees
September 6, 2000
Contact: Jeff Drumtra 202-347-3507, ext. 3024; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1.5 Million Africans Flee in Search of Safety During First Eight Months of 2000
At least 1.5 million people in Africa fled their homes during the first eight months of this year because of war, violence, or political repression, the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) announced today.
The USCR estimate of 1.5 million newly uprooted Africans is very conservative and might well undercount hundreds of thousands of newly uprooted people at locations in Africa where inadequate reporting makes estimates difficult.
Africa's newly uprooted population is equivalent to nearly 50,000 new refugees and internally displaced people per week. At least 10 African countries suffered significant population flight during January to August of 2000. The newly uprooted people join millions of other Africans who remain refugees or internally displaced from previous years; a cumulative total of some 14.2 million Africans are currently uprooted and unable to return home.
The estimate of newly uprooted Africans is based on extensive monitoring of public and private field reports by UN humanitarian agencies, private international relief organizations, and other sources in Africa. Although initial reports of new population upheavals are often inaccurate and frequently are exaggerated because of chaos on the ground, USCR has analyzed the field data to arrive at conservative minimum estimates.
The international community has responded poorly to Africa's new emergencies by curtailing food deliveries this year and leaving major relief programs drastically under-funded. The U.S. Congress is poised to pass an appropriations bill in the next few days that would cut assistance to African refugees to its lowest level in more than a decade. Congress is also prepared to reduce funding for humanitarian relief to internally displaced persons worldwide by as much as $60 million-a cut of more than 25 percent. Moreover, an appropriations bill passed by the House, and pending in a House-Senate conference committee, would eliminate U.S. funding for all UN peacekeeping efforts in Africa.
Following is a summary of significant new population upheavals in Africa during the first two-thirds of this year:
* Newly uprooted = 500,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 650,000]
* Cause = border war with Ethiopia.
* Minimum estimate includes populations uprooted during military offensive by Ethiopian troops in May-June.
* Minimum estimate does not include several thousand Eritreans who fled in August from areas occupied by Ethiopian troops; does not include larger displacement estimates by Eritrean authorities.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 1 million. [Higher estimates = 1.25 million]
* Newly uprooted = 430,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 540,000]
* Cause = civil war; war with neighboring countries.
* Minimum estimate includes UN assessment that more than 400,000 Congolese became internally displaced in first half of year; 30,000 new Congolese refugees to Tanzania, Zambia, and Congo-Brazzaville.
* Minimum estimate does not include higher UN estimate of possible 100,000 additional newly displaced Congolese; does not include reports of an additional 20,000 new Congolese refugees in Congo-Brazzaville.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 1.4 million. [Higher estimates = 1.7 million]
* Newly uprooted = 200,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 250,000]
* Cause = civil war; current violence in eight of country's 15 provinces.
* Minimum estimate includes approximately 200,000 new internally displaced persons; 10,000 to 15,000 new Angolan refugees in Zambia.
* Minimum estimate does not include sizable but uncounted August population movements into central cities of Kuito and Uige; does not include reports of uncounted numbers recently uprooted in contested border areas.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 1.8 million to 2.5 million.
* Newly uprooted = 160,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 270,000]
* Cause = renewed civil war.
* Minimum estimate includes at least 100,000 newly uprooted persons registered by aid agencies nationwide; at least 50,000 newly displaced living on their own nationwide; 7,000 newly displaced in northern town of Bubuna in August; at least 6,000 new Sierra Leonean refugees to Guinea.
* Minimum estimate does not include additional 50,000 newly uprooted people reported but not confirmed by aid agencies; does not include reports of several thousand additional new uncounted refugees in Guinea; does not include highest estimates for newly displaced population congregated at Mile 91 in central Sierra Leone or Port Loko in the north.
* Total uprooted, including from previous years = 750,000. [Higher estimates = 1 million]
* Newly uprooted = 60,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 150,000]
* Cause = civil war; government policies.
* Minimum estimate includes nearly 50,000 new internally displaced persons in southern Bentiu oil-producing area in August; 10,000 new Sudanese refugees in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia.
* Minimum estimate does not include unconfirmed reports of tens of thousands of newly displaced persons in inaccessible areas of Western Upper Nile Province; does not include possible new population displacement in central Sudan's Nuba Mountain area; does not include unconfirmed reports of recent population flight from government-controlled southern town of Wau; does not include uncounted numbers of newly uprooted people near northeastern town of Kassala; does not include reports of newly uprooted people in western Darfur Province.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 4.4 million.
* Newly uprooted = 60,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 100,000+]
* Cause = civil war.
* Minimum estimate includes nearly 40,000 new Burundian refugees to Tanzania; 30,000 new internally displaced in southern Makamba Province.
* Minimum estimate does not include new internal displacement in eastern provinces where violence is ongoing; does not include newest displacement caused by violence and government policies near Bujumbura, the capital.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 1 million.
* Newly uprooted = 50,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 200,000]
* Cause = armed insurgencies in north and southwest.
* Minimum estimate includes new displacement of 50,000 people in northern districts of Kitgum and Gulu.
* Minimum estimate does not include higher government estimates for displacement in Gulu and Kitgum; does not include possible new population displacement caused by insurgent attacks early in year near southern town of Bundibugyo; does not include population displacement caused by recent insurgent attacks in central Uganda; does not include uncounted displacement triggered by ethnic violence in northern Karamoja area.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 510,000. [Higher estimates = 840,000]
* Newly uprooted = 50,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 80,000]
* Cause = religious and political violence.
* Minimum estimate includes Nigerians uprooted in northern central city of Kaduna and nearby areas by violence that reportedly killed 600.
* Minimum estimate does not include higher unconfirmed estimates of population displacement in northern Nigeria; does not include possible new displacement caused by political tensions in southern oil regions.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 50,000 to 100,000.
* Newly uprooted = 30,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 40,000]
* Cause = civil strife; alleged armed insurgency.
* Minimum estimate includes reports of 30,000 or more internally displaced persons since July in Lofa County.
* Minimum estimate does not include higher government estimates for population displacement in Lofa County.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 230,000. [Higher estimates = 270,000]
* Newly uprooted = 5,000 minimum. [Higher estimates = 25,000]
* Cause = civil strife.
* Minimum estimate includes new internally displaced persons in south central Somalia in March.
* Minimum estimate does not include likely displacement caused by violence in key town of Belet Wein in August, fighting south of Mogadishu in July, violence in Baidoa in June, and violence north of Mogadishu in Jowhar.
* Total now uprooted, including from previous years = 780,000. [Higher estimates = 850,000]
* Total newly uprooted = 1.54 million minimum. [Higher estimates = 2.3 million.]
* Total now uprooted in Africa, including from previous years = 14.2 million (includes uprooted populations from African countries not listed above).
U.S. Committee for Refugees
September 13, 2000
Contact: Eleanor Bedford, Policy Analyst (202) 347-3507 x 3136; e-mail: email@example.com
Sierra Leone and Liberia Violence Spills into Guinea; Backlash Endangers Hundreds of Thousands of Refugees
Armed violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia has spilled into neighboring Guinea in recent days, subjecting refugees and local citizens there to violent attacks and threatening to ignite the entire region.
Guinea, one of Africa's poorest nations, hosts more refugees than any other African country, including nearly 100,000 refugees from Liberia and an estimated 330,000 from Sierra Leone. Its tradition of relative hospitality toward refugees has eroded as incursions from Sierra Leone and Liberia have increased.
After three deadly cross-border attacks into Guinea in the first week of September, Guinean President Lansana Conte declared in a nationwide broadcast on September 9, "I am giving orders that we bring together all foreigners...and that we search and arrest suspects.... They should go home. We know that there are rebels among the refugees. Civilians and soldiers, let's defend our country together. Crush the invaders."
The Guinean president's inflammatory remarks prompted a series of raids and round-ups resulting in the arrest and detention of at least 3,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees. Reports of attacks and serious abuse against refugees were widespread. Large numbers of Sierra Leoneans sought shelter at their country's embassy in the Guinean capital, Conakry. Guinean officials agreed to release the detainees on Monday, but serious protection concerns remain among the refugee population in Guinea.
The recent pattern of cross-border incursions could trigger new population upheavals and exacerbate regional destabilization in West Africa unless checked.
A review of key events during the past week:
September 1: Armed assailants attacked the village of Massadou, in Guinea's eastern region, about 15 miles (25 km) from the country's porous border with Liberia. Attackers killed 47 people, burned huts, and looted local food stocks. The local population, and refugees living among them, fled. Survivors reported that former Liberian refugees who previously lived in Massadou accompanied the attackers from Liberia. Liberia denies the charge.
September 3: Unidentified gunmen attacked the Guinean town of Madina Woula, about 100 miles (170 km) northeast of Conakry, along the Guinean border with Sierra Leone. Thousands of civilians were forced to flee their homes temporarily.
September 6: Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels attacked the Guinean village of Pamalap in the Forecariah region, located about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Conakry along Guinea's border with Sierra Leone. A fierce firefight ensued in which gunmen attacked a Guinean army garrison and abducted two Italian missionaries. Guinean authorities dispatched government troops to protect Sierra Leonean refugee camps about eight miles (13 km) from the Guinea-Sierra Leone border. Nevertheless, preliminary reports indicate that several thousand Sierra Leonean refugees in Forecariah may have fled back to rebel-held areas of Sierra Leone last weekend, fearing attacks in Guinea.
These recent attacks into Guinea follow closely on the heels of persistent reports from the Liberian capital, Monrovia, of cross-border incursions into northern Liberia from Guinea since mid-summer. The nature of the insurgency in Liberia is unclear.
Considerable conjecture also surrounds the nature of the attacks into Guinea. Some regard the incursions as a coordinated effort by Liberian President Charles Taylor to retaliate against Guinea for providing asylum to Liberian dissidents and armed groups that have allegedly attacked Liberia. Others speculate that some of these border clashes are the product of local business transactions gone awry between RUF rebels and Guineans believed to be involved in diamond trafficking and other illegal cross-border activities.
Regardless of the underlying causes of the current violence, President Conte's public threat to the safety of refugees in his country is unprecedented. Guinea faces legitimate security concerns. But Guinean authorities should exercise caution in public pronouncements and should act responsibly to ensure the protection of hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees seeking safety on Guinean soil. National Guinean officials should hold those responsible for abuses accountable. Without proper safeguards, conditions are ripe for further human rights abuses against refugees in the region, as many observers predict cross-border attacks are likely to increase in the months ahead.
The international community should do its share by pursuing a just peace in Sierra Leone, supporting strong military measures against the RUF rebels, and bolstering refugee protection and assistance in Guinea and Liberia. These newest threats to refugee safety in West Africa are occurring as the U.S. Congress is poised to pass an appropriations bill that would unwisely cut U.S. funding for African refugees to its lowest level in more than a decade.
Message-Id: <200009150024.UAA22196@server.africapolicy.org> From: "APIC" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 20:20:47 -0500 Subject: Africa: Refugee Updates
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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