Respecting the rights of urban refugees in East Africa through a human rights approach to urbanisation

michael_addaneyAuthor: Michael Addaney
Student (MPhil Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

 

 

Gertrude Mafoa QuanAuthor: Gertrude Mafoa Quan
Candidate Attorney; LLM (Multidisciplinary Human Rights) student at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

 

 

The city is the new refugee camp…
~ International Rescue Committee

Article 1 of the 1951 United Nations (UN) Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) defines refugee as ‘a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence due to a well-founded fear of persecution base on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion and is unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country or to return there for fear of persecution’. Due to contextual issues, article 1 of the 1969 Organisation for African Unity’s Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (1969 OAU Convention) added a second paragraph to the 1951 Convention to incorporate people that have been displaced due to liberation wars and internal upheavals.

Meanwhile, there is no internationally recognised definition for urban refugees. However, the Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) defines an urban refugee as a refugee who satisfies the international requirements for obtaining a refugee status and has self-settled in a city or town. Recent decades have experienced rapid population growth with most cities witnessing urban sprawl. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in 2009 that an estimated 58 percent of the world’s 10.5 million refugees now reside in cities.

Despite it being mostly rural region, UN Habit has projected that Sub-Saharan Africa and for that matter countries in Eastern Africa will have more than half of its population residing in urban areas by 2026. Characteristically, there has been increasing flow of refugees to urban areas in this region too. According to official UNHCR 2015 statistics, four Eastern African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia) host more than 1.5 million refugees. These refugees are mostly from 9 countries (Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo).

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Extraction and right to food in Mozambique: Empty promises to empty plates

Nastasia Thebaud-BouillonAuthor: Nastasia Thebaud-Bouillon
Student (LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Piece of land used to mean peace of mind in Mozambique. But the day extractive industries came in the North and started resettling communities, everything disappeared: piece of land alongside peace of mind. The cocktail was simple: a promise of new land, a better house and employment. The result was far from that; eviction without proper compensation, and relocation to empty bare lands with no opportunity to grow food for their subsistence. Not to mention that these resettlement lands were far from market opportunities.

Research conducted in Mozambique in April 2015 shows that mining has not brought the development and services communities expected in Tete and Cabo Delgado provinces in Northern and Central Mozambique. Extraction has often been conducted more to the detriment than to the benefits of host communities. This is mainly due to the lack of capacity of authorities in dealing with foreign multinational companies.

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