On July 28, Ambassador Lapenn hosted Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Elizabeth Campbell of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for a roundtable discussion on Africa’s migration and refugee challenges with Permanent Representatives to the African Union.
Demonstrating the widespread commitment to assisting Africans affected by conflict and other causes of forced displacement, the Permanent Representatives to the African Union from Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda contributed valuable insights.
DAS Campbell’s visit to Addis Ababa follows the May 2022 Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said, “The paradox of humanitarianism lies in the discrepancy between the urgent nature of the situations of human distress to be taken care of and the poignant need to defer this care because of the lack of or insufficient financial resources.”
DAS Campbell underscored that the United States is the largest single provider of humanitarian assistance inside Africa, contributing more than $6.6 billion so far in fiscal year 2022.
DAS Campbell recognized that money must be complemented by partnership, long-term thinking, and collective problem solving: “The continent is the place you see the most creative solutions to issues of migration and displaced people. We want to hear from your expertise and understand your perspective on how we can help.”
The AU representatives each spoke passionately about how migration and refugee issues affect their country and their own lives. Two participants shared that they were displaced themselves as children by local conflicts, and another said that many of their teachers growing up were refugees from neighboring countries.
There was wide consensus that the root causes of displacement – the climate crisis, civil conflict, poverty – must be addressed. Post-conflict reconstruction and DDR were also highlighted.
Representatives described how Africa has been on the forefront of developing specific instruments to tackle these issues, such as African Risk Capacity Group and the African Climate Migration Initiative.
DAS Campbell emphasized that the U.S. Government recognizes the diversity of migration and refugee issues in Africa and across the world. She emphasized that it is “our collective responsibility to help civilians affected by disaster. That is the principle that must lead us.”
To learn more about the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, please visit https://www.state.gov/bureaus-offices/under-secretary-for-civilian-security-democracy-and-human-rights/bureau-of-population-refugees-and-migration/.