IGAD countries work together to address displacement in the Horn of Africa

Leading the way on the regional approach to the Global Compact on Refugees, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD launches Support Platform

Switzerland. African representatives discuss Somalia at Global Refugee Forum

Representatives of seven African countries from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) discuss Somalia's refugee crisis at a session chaired by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the Palais des Nations, during the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.  © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

On Monday (December 16), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency jointly launched the IGAD Support Platform* in Geneva, Switzerland, during a Special Event moderated by Ambassador Mohamed Affey, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, at the first ever Global Refugee Forum.   

IGAD, a regional political body which includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda have been working over the last three years 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 self-reliance 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 March 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 UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo 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. 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. In Djibouti, the country fully integrated refugees into the national health system. South Sudan recently ratified the 1951 Convention and its related 1967 Protocol, which demonstrates its commitment for refugees. In Kenya, the country adopted the integrated socioeconomic development programme to benefit refugees and host communities. In Sudan, the return and reintegration programme for CAR and Chad ensures the returnees has access to socioeconomic services in their areas if return.

“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:

  1. Galvanize political commitment and advocate for solutions;

  2.  Mobilize financial, material and technical assistance;

  3.  Maintain a high-level overview and ensure coherence of relevant humanitarian, development and peace initiatives in the region;

  4.  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.

For more information please contact:

IGAD:  Mahamed Abdillahi,  [email protected] +25377079003

UNHCR: Dana Hughes [email protected] +254 733 440526 / Tina Ghelli, [email protected] +254 784 880 087