Addis Ababa , February 22/2021 (ENA) The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region remains the largest host of refugees in the African context that shows the need for an integrated efforts to protect the safety and rights of these people, according to the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR).
UNHCR Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mohamed Abdi Affey made the remark at IGAD’s 2nd Scientific Conference on Migration and Displacement that kicked off today here in Addis Ababa.
The two days conference has been discussing on the challenges of migration and displacement in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the conference, the special envoy stated that as of today, the figures show that there are 6 million refugees and asylum seekers in the horn and over 8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region.
Therefore, he added the IGAD region remains the largest host of refugees in the African context which calls for strengthened integrated efforts to protect the safety and rights of these vulnerable segments of the society, according to the special envoy.
Forced displacement due to conflicts remains common trend in the region, he indicated.
COVID-19 and its multi-dimensional impacts have also added to the gravity of the ongoing dire situation, he said.
Measures being taken by countries to mitigate the spread of the virus have been affecting refugees as the measures included travel restrictions and border closures, it was indicated.
Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa said for his part that free movements of ambitions are the heart of regional integration agenda of IGAD as well as the African Union development efforts.
The Regional Director further stated “We must not let the momentarily movement restrictions of COVID-19 let us lose sights of all momentum promises of the agenda led by the African Union and IGAD”.
Unleashing the potential of migration and regional integration must be at the hearts of the socio-economic efforts, he underscored.
“To achieve this, we need effective regional cooperation”, he said adding “In the region, we have seen efforts of member states together with IGAD and the East African community joint forces to harmonize legal migration policies, advance labor migration agreement and promote decent work for our population”.