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Africa/Global: Migrants' Rights Roundup

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 26, 2016 (160526)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

At the World Humanitarian Summit ( in Istanbul on May 23-24, the informal consensus was that the system of humanitarian response to today's crises is "broken." The calls to "leave no one behind" highlighted the particular vulnerability of the displaced. But it is clear that such non-binding resolutions will only be implemented by extensive mobilization on many fronts, including both those most affected and their allies.

Each issue of AfricaFocus requires selection from a wide array of sources. Normally this is for reposting of excerpts from a small number of sources, with a few additional links to additional resources. Sometimes, as for this Bulletin, that choice is just overwhelming, and I have opted for a roundup of links or very short excerpts, to include a much wider set of sources that have been called to my intention.

I hope this will serve as a resource for readers who can pick and choose what to followup. I particularly urge readers to view the multimedia resources highlighted at the beginning, and to pass them on to others who may be interested, by email and through social media links.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a roundup of links on migration issues, particularly related to protection of rights of refugees, other international migrants, and internally displaced people. Although it is far from comprehensive, the range of sources included show increasing recognition, in Africa and globally, that migration and forced migration creating extreme vulnerability is a complex phenomenon, closely linked to other economic, social, and political and to fundamental human rights of all people.

In addition to the wide range of sources below, previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on migration are available at

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

Multimedia Perspectives on Migration

Rosebell Kagumire at World Economic Forum for Africa, Kigali, May 13, 2016

20 minute video. Good questions from audience & good thoughtful nuanced answers about African migration from this leading Ugandan journalist, who formerly worked at International Organization for Migration in Geneva. Migration is not just to Europe but also within Africa and with Middle East and Asia as well. Fortunately most of the time with questions and actions. Goes far beyond the stereotypes.

"New York Immigrant Advocates Launch Black Immigrant Engagement Initiative," May 11, 2016

15 minutes interview on BRIC TV, the first 24/7 television channel created by, for, and about Brooklyn. Hadiyah Harrison, Project Manager at the New York Immigration Coalition, and Carl Lipscombe, Policy & Legal Manager at Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).

[For additional recent articles from BAJI, visit

Op-ed by Opal Tometi of BAJI in Time magazine

Grassroots call to decriminalize the U.S. immigration system, #Fix96 on-line petition -]

Laeila Adjovi, "The Town of Women," BBC, 2 December 2015 - Photo essay on the town of Beguedo in Burkina Faso and migration to Italy. For more on the photographer, see

Anne Paq, "Migrant domestic workers take to the streets in Beirut. Demonstrators called for basic rights, including a minimum wage and at least one day off per week.", photo essay, Al Jazeera, 7 May 2016

New Blog and Facebook Page

AfricaMoves: A Pan African Migration Platform
On Facebook at

Organizations contributing to the establishment of Africa Moves include: Priority Africa Network; Black Immigration Network; PanAfrican Network in Defense of Migrants' Rights; Consortium for Refugees & Migrants in South Africa; Africa Speaks 4 Africa. Edited by Nunu Kidane.

Kenya's Refugees in Kenya & Beyond

Samar Al-Bulushi, "Kenya's Refugee 'Problem'" Africa Is a Country, May 25, 2016

"Integrally tied to this pending humanitarian crisis is the global architecture of counter-terrorism. The Kenyan government is but one actor among many who produce, and profit from, the specter of terrorist threat, which allows for the discursive slippage from civilian, to potential Al-Shabaab sympathizer, to potential terrorist."

Chico Harlan, "For many Somali refugees, this industry offers hope -- then takes it away," Washington Post, May 25, 2016

Feature article: "Though meatpacking plants have long relied on labor by immigrants, particularly Hispanics, major companies have moved to hire Somalis, who have the dual advantage for employers of being legal and relatively cheap. In one slice of a changing lowwage America, these are the new ideal workers."

Lucy Hovil, "Why is the cost of hosting refugees falling on the world's poorest states?," The Guardian, May 13, 2016

"The government of Kenya says it plans to close Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, which hosts approximately 330,000 people, as well as shutting the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA). The announcement, on Friday 6 May, was no doubt a pre-election stunt of Trump-like proportions that plays to an electorate's fear of generating instability and outsiders taking jobs, playing to the same xenophobic narrative that has become commonplace in election campaigns across the world. [but] As long as rich nations pay lip service to meeting the needs of the world’s displaced, they cannot blame Kenya for closing refugee camps like Dadaab"

Jina Moore, "Kenya Is Trying To Close The World’s Biggest Refugee Camp And This Is Why," Buzzfeed, May 13, 2016

"Kenya says the camps are a security threat, but the move comes at a time when refugees are big business. ... When Europe began panicking over its growing refugee population, Kenya took notice. A very noticeable feature of that crisis is that Europe is willing to spend cash -- lots of cash -- to end its refugee problems. ... This is not the first time Kenya has said it will close the camps. Last time it issued this threat, it got $45 million more in U.S. aid."

Amnesty International, "New 'Refugees Welcome Index' shows Kenyan government out of touch with public on refugees," 19 May 2016

"The new Refugees Welcome Index, based on a global survey of more than 27,000 people carried out by the strategy consultancy GlobeScan, found that 65% of Kenyans would personally welcome refugees and that 62% thought their government had not yet done everything in its power to help refugees. 'This report, coming at a time of heightened anti-refugee rhetoric from the Kenyan government, shows that Kenyans are not as unaccepting as their government would make the world believe,' said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. 'It shows that a majority of Kenyans would welcome refugees into their country and that the government’s decision to shut down Dadaab refugee camp is not backed by popular opinion.'"

Stephanie Schwartz, "Why Kenya's threat to close its refugee camps is even worse than you think," Washington Post, May 11, 2016

"Many observers are already questioning whether Kenya will really follow through on the closure, whether the camps really are a haven for terrorists, and whether this action violates international law.

An equally important question is: Do these refugees have homes to which they could return? Probably not. And the reasons aren't just that Somalia and South Sudan won't magically become peaceful.

Why else can’t they return? Let me explain by telling you what I've found among Burundian refugees in Tanzania."

New International Reports

Amnesty International, "Refugees Welcome Index shows government refugee policies out of touch with public opinion, 19 May 2016

"The vast majority of people (80%) would welcome refugees with open arms, with many even prepared to take them into their own homes, according to a global survey commissioned by Amnesty International.

The new Refugees Welcome Index, based on a global survey of more than 27,000 people carried out by the internationally renowned strategy consultancy GlobeScan, ranks 27 countries across all continents based on people's willingness to let refugees live in their countries, towns, neighbourhoods and homes.

The survey shows people say they are willing to go to astonishing lengths to make refugees welcome. It also shows how anti-refugee political rhetoric is out of kilter with public opinion."

Bronwen Manby, "Who Belongs? Statelessness and Nationality in West Africa," Migration Policy Institute, April 7, 2016 - direct URL:

[Full article contains extensive background and analysis. Brief excerpt below by permission of Migration Policy Institute.]

"At least 10 million people around the world are stateless, according to estimates from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), but the real number may be much higher. Statelessness severely limits a person’s human rights, including access to basic services such as health care and education. Often deemed to be illegally present in their country of birth and residence--even if their parents were also born there--stateless individuals may be unable to work in the formal economy, open a bank account, or buy land. A person without identity documents, usually dependent on nationality, is unable to cross international borders through regular channels. ...

Although those lacking documents are generally among the poorest and most marginalized, an undocumented person who is a member of the dominant ethnic or religious group and comes from a settled community and stable family is far less likely to be refused when applying for a nationality document. Those most at risk of statelessness are members of social groups facing discrimination, migrants (especially irregular migrants) and their descendants, refugees, and children born out of wedlock, separated from their parents, or vulnerable in other ways. They are left stateless not only by discrimination in practice and weak administrative systems, but also by laws that provide very limited rights based on birth in the territory and that restrict transmission of nationality from parent to child on the basis of gender or other grounds.


At the regional level, West Africa has moved furthest to address statelessness, as a result of advocacy from UNHCR and the existing policies and institutional frameworks of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In February 2015, the 15 ECOWAS Member States adopted the Abidjan Declaration on the Eradication of Statelessness, agreeing "to prevent and reduce statelessness by reforming constitutional, legislative and institutional regimes related to nationality in order to include appropriate safeguards against statelessness, in particular to ensure that every child acquires a nationality at birth and that all foundlings are considered nationals of the State in which they are found." Of course, the declaration is just that--a declaration--and does not necessarily mean the promised action will take place. Nonetheless, it is a remarkable recognition at the regional level that the question of nationality in Africa needs to be addressed.

Based on a study commissioned by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and presented at the February 2015 Abidjan conference, this article explores the factors contributing to statelessness in West Africa, including the region's colonial and migration history and nationality laws, as well as the social groups particularly at risk. The article then examines the ECOWAS framework, steps taken to implement the Abidjan Declaration, and the way forward to eradicating statelessness in West Africa."

Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Bruno Schoumaker, "Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Migration History Marked by Crises and Restrictions," Migration Policy Institute, April 20, 2016

Article provides historical overview as well as analysis of current situation.

"DR Congo has long had both economic and humanitarian migration exchanges. African countries host the vast majority of Congolese migrants and refugees, whose numbers have increased significantly over the last four decades, particularly since the wars of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The lack of recent censuses in several destination countries (such as Angola) makes it difficult to precisely evaluate the distribution of Congolese migrants and changing patterns. Data from the United Nations Population Division nevertheless show significant changes over the last 25 years. In 1990, an estimated 300,000 Congolese migrants and refugees resided in one of the nine neighboring countries (Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan [now South Sudan], Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia), representing three-quarters of all migrants from DR Congo worldwide (see Table 1). Their number had more than doubled by 2000 (to approximately 700,000), and by mid-2015, had risen to more than 1 million in the neighboring countries (1.2 million for Africa as a whole; see Table 1).


While Belgium was the main Western destination of Congolese migrants prior to the 1980s, destinations have increasingly diversified. France has become the preferred end point since the late 1990s (Figure 2), possibly as a result of greater ease getting visas and of obtaining asylum, and better labor market opportunities. Recent estimates indicate that France and Belgium together host more than 100,000 Congolese migrants, and that more than 50,000 others live elsewhere in Europe (including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and the United Kingdom; see Figure 2).

Outside Europe, the United States and Canada have also become increasingly popular destinations since the 1990s (see Figure 2), each now hosting nearly 30,000 Congolese immigrants. This growing interest is also found among would-be migrants in surveys conducted in Kinshasa. Congolese migration to the United States has taken off since 2005, making the United States the second most popular Congolese destination outside Africa."

Additional recent international reports and sources

[Thanks to Evalyn Tennant, of Global Migration Policy Associates (GMPA), for identifying these links and sharing them with me. As with other global issues, the outcomes for Africa are closely related to policies set at a global level. As the number of refugees, migrants, and internally displaced people grows worldwide, affecting countries in all regions, the global response is more and more obviously falling short. The policy debates, both in intergovernmental and non-governmental forums, are becoming more and more intense.]

UN Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants Upcoming September 19, 2016

Official UN pages. Second link above has multimedia resources as well as news.

Secretary General's Report for the Summit: "In Safety and Dignity: Addressing large movements of refugees and migrants"

Report includes assessment of current issues facing refugees and migrants and the countries hosting them, as well as calls for global compacts, one on "Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees" and the other for "Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration."

Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC), International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Global Coalition Migration page on MICIC

Civil society coalition page related to MICIC, includes reports on civil society consultations in West and Central Africa, North Africa and Middle East, and Central and Southern Africa.

MICIC West and Central Africa regional consultation

MICIC North Africa and Middle East consultation

MICIC East and Southern Africa consultation

Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat for the Horn of Africa and Yemen

Forced Migration Review

This journal has a wealth of resources, including Africa-specific resources. For example, the latest issue ( has articles relating to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Somalia-Yemen relations, Burundi, and Tanzania.

Joint Labour Migration Program for Africa

The African Union Commission (AUC), the ILO, the IOM and the UNECA are implementing the Joint Labour Migration Program (JLMP) for Africa formally adopted in January 2015 by African Heads of State and Government as a comprehensive programme on labour migration governance for the region.

Global Detention Project

Includes special reports on detention of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf states, as well as in the Americas. See for reports.

Caritas Europa, "Migrants and Refugees Have Rights: Impact of EU Policies on Accessing Protection," February 2016

Comprehensive 74-page report with background, policy analysis, personal stories, photographs, and recommendations.

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) GRID 2016: Global Report on Internal Displacement, May 2016

This is a fundamental report for understanding displacement, whatever the cause. Brief excerpt from the foreword by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council:

"Much focus has been placed on the hundreds of thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who have put their lives at risk to reach European shores. Their bravery and despair has drawn much attention to the phenomenon of displacement. In reality though, they represent only the tip of an iceberg.

There are now twice as many internally displaced people (IDPs) as refugees worldwide. In some ways, the distinction between internal and cross-border flight is unhelpful in a globalised world.


When displacement becomes inevitable, humanitarians attend to more immediate needs, but they must work with the development sector if sustainable solutions are to be achieved. There is a clear trend of displacement becoming more protracted and more of a development challenge.

To take some of these considerations into account, we are presenting our estimates of internal displacement in 2015 in a radically new way, with figures on people displaced by conflict, by violence and by disasters in a single report.

The Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) aims to provide a more holistic picture of the phenomenon, regardless of cause. ... It also discusses types of displacement that receive too little attention, such as that associated with generalised criminal violence, gradually-evolving crises such as drought, and development projects."

Additional articles of interest

African Film Festival (in Tarifa, Spain and Tangiers, Morocco)begins today, May 26, and runs through June 4.

Building links across the Mediterranean, this film festival is in its 13th year.

Thomas Friedman, "Out of Africa," New York Times, Apr 13,20,27, 2016,, and

Better than the usual from this New York Times columnist, reporting from Niger and Senegal on African migration to Europe.

Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Briefing on "Fortress Europe," 20 October 2015

Ugandan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia

Detention centers in Libya

Sudan crackdown on Eritrean migrants

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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