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Africa's overlooked crises to be in the spotlight at UNHCR's annual Executive Committee meeting, next week

Briefing notes

Africa's overlooked crises to be in the spotlight at UNHCR's annual Executive Committee meeting, next week

26 September 2014

Next week, at the start of their annual meeting, the 94 member states of UNHCR's Executive Committee will be looking at how to mobilize more international attention and support for the many and complex displacement situations in Africa. High Commissioner António Guterres will deliver the opening statement, followed by the Secretary-General's Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng. The high-level meeting on refugees in Africa takes place on Monday and Tuesday (29 and 30 September).

Ministers and senior representatives from countries hosting some of the continent's largest refugee populations will speak to the deep human suffering resulting from wars and displacement. They will discuss the deteriorating humanitarian consequences for Africa and the many challenges faced by the forcibly displaced and the host communities that they live in. Observer states, regional, NGO and UN partners will also participate in the discussions.

The meeting will remind the international community of the risks of continuing to overlook the humanitarian crises in Africa. It aims at promoting more international solidarity and burden sharing with the hosting communities. At the same time, speakers will underscore the urgent need for rallying stronger political and financial support to stop and prevent the conflicts that are the root cause of mass displacement.

Despite today's major conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, Africa remains the continent with the highest number of refugees and internally displaced - a staggering 15 million people. This includes nearly 2.5 million people newly displaced during the first six months of 2014, mostly from wars in Central African Republic, north-eastern Nigeria and South Sudan.

In addition to these new or revived emergencies, the continent continues to grapple with several protracted displacement situations. More than 1.1 million Somalis, 650,000 Sudanese (half of them from Darfur), some 500,000 Congolese and over 300,000 Eritreans remain in exile, many of them for several decades. During 2013, only 168,000 refugees were able to return home.

UNHCR's programmes for Africa amount to some US$2.77 billion, but are only funded at 32 per cent.

The opening session of the meeting, which takes place on Monday 29 September from 10:00am to 1:00pm in the Assembly Hall will be open to the press.

Further information / news diary entries

We are pleased to invite press to the following activities related to the 65th session of our executive committee next week:

• UNHCR will present this year's Nansen Refugee Award to Butterflies Without Wings Building a Future (Butterflies), from Buenaventura, Colombia on September 29 at 8.15pm at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, Geneva.

Butterflies volunteers put their lives at risk to help survivors of forced displacement and sexual abuse. So far they have helped over 1000 women and their families in one of the most violent cities in Colombia.

Gloria Amparo, Maritza Asprilla Cruz and Mery Medina - three of the Butterflies' coordinators- will accept the award on behalf of the Women's rights and are available for interview in Geneva from until to Tuesday 30.

Guests will be welcome at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices from 6.30pm. Video and photography is not permitted during the ceremony but photographs and b-roll will be distributed soon after.

• High Commissioner António Guterres will hold a press conference on the outcomes and conclusions of this year's meeting of the Executive Committee on Friday 3 October at 1 pm in press room III.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

• In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106

• In Geneva, Karin de Gruijl on mobile +41 79 255 9213