AFRICA: Africa World Press Guide
compiled and edited by WorldViews
REFUGEES IN AFRICA
Refugees in the world," Adelman notes, "Africa has more than five million." Other estimates put the number of refugees and displaced peoples (refugees within their national borders) even higher. Whatever the number, Adelman is
correct: in the popular mind, as well as in reality, Africa and refugees appear to be inextricably intertwined.
Multiple causes, terrible consequences
As with all sweeping generalizations about the vast and diverse continent of Africa, however, the too-easy linkage between refugees and Africa needs to be deconstructed. Where are the most intense concentrations of refugees and displaced persons in Afr
ica? What are the causes of these social disruptions? In which instances have refugees been driven from their homes by natural phenomena (e.g., droughts)? In which cases have they been displaced by war? What attendant factors are critical to study in rela
tion to the refugee crisis (e.g., landmines as obstacles to repatriation)? What initiatives are Africans taking to meet the challenge of refugees?
International refugee problem
The refugee crisis in Africa needs to be situated in an international context. Books that place Africa's refugee crisis in a broader geographical framework include:
- The Cambridge Survey of World Migration (Cohen 1995). Substantive essays and up-to-date documentation on world migration from the sixteenth century to the present. Seven essays in chapter six are devoted to migration in Africa, e.g., "Cheap gol
d: Mine labour in Southern Africa," "People on the move in West Africa: From pre-colonial polities to post-independence states," and "Forced labour and migration in Portugal's African colonies."
- The World Refugee Problem (Hakovirta 1991). Finnish scholar Harto Hakovirta's study of "one of the greatest and saddest global problems of our time."
- The Global Refugee Crisis (Loescher and Loescher 1995). A broad survey of the refugee crisis that closes with an outline of the future challenges that refugee movements pose for the international community.
- Population Movements and the Third World (Parnwell 1993). The complex interplay between migration and development is the focus of this concise survey of population movements in and from Third World countries.
- Beyond Borders: Refugees, Migrants and Human Rights in the Post-Cold War Era (Ferris 1993). A former refugee specialist with the World Council of Churches (Geneva) analyzes movements of people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East
and suggests how the international system might respond better to the needs of migrants and refugees.
Two highly recommended educational resources are:
- Refugees: We Left Because We Had To. An Educational Book for 14-18 Year Olds (Rutter 1996). A field-tested sourcebook of background readings and curriculum materials on the nature and causes of population displacements in Burundi, Rwanda, Eritr
ea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Mozambique, and other countries in Africa and Asia.
- The Refugee Campaign (CAFOD 1994). A handsome packet of study and worship resources produced for an educational campaign in England and Wales by CAFOD, the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development.
The conference papers gathered together in The Migration Experience in Africa (Baker and Aina 1995) set a helpful historical framework for the study of population movements in Africa by underlining the fact that "the phenomenon of migration is not
new in Africa." Africa, as one observer has noted, is--and always has been--a continent "perpetually on the move."
The following books describe and analyze the features of movements of people in Africa today and highlight the numerous and diverse reasons for the displacement of people.
- African Refugees: Development and Repatriation (Adelman and Sorenson 1994) identifies and analyzes some of these causes: ideological wars and nationalist conflicts, environmental disasters and ethnic hatreds, and "the brutal ambition for power
of a few and the poverty of many."
- In Protecting the Dispossessed: A Challenge for the International Community (Deng 1993) Francis M. Deng, formerly Sudan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, focuses attention on people in Africa and elsewhere who are internally displaced. "
Worldwide," Deng writes, "the number of people displaced within their own countries far exceeds the number of those who have crossed international borders and become refugees. The most recent estimates set the internally displaced population at 25 million
and the refugee population at 18 million." (Estimates are that more than 15 million of the 25 million displaced persons worldwide are Africans.) Protecting the Dispossessed contains chapter-length country reports on two African nations (Somalia an
d the Sudan) and an entire chapter--"The Challenge in the African Experience"-- that explores ways that the international community can move beyond providing emergency relief to deal with the root causes of displacement.
- The connection between violent conflicts and refugees is examined in Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World (Zolberg et al. 1989). Three of the six regional studies in Escape from Violence deal with
Africa: (1) Ethnic conflict in the new states of sub-Saharan Africa (Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Chad, Uganda); (2) In the long shadow of South Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia); and (3) Separatism, revolution, and war in Ethiopia and the Horn (
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia).
- African Exodus: Refugee Crisis, Human Rights and the 1969 OAU Convention (Carver et al. 1995) reports on the results of a 3-year investigation by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (New York) into the state of refugee protection in Africa,
with particular reference to the effectiveness of "the most progressive treaty regime in the world," the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees in Africa (the "OAU Convention").
"In Africa alone, it has been estimated that around 3.5 million refugees were repatriated between 1971 and 1990...[and] during the same years, millions more Africans went home after periods of exile within their own countries.
--Tim Allen and David Turton, In Search of Cool Ground (Allen 1996), p. 1
When Refugees Go Home: African Experiences (Allen and Morsink 1994) examines the little-noticed fact that millions of African refugees have returned successfully to their homes after periods of internal or external displacement. "It is important
for those anxious about the welfare of the world's displaced millions," editors Tim Allen and Hubert Morsink remind their readers, "to seize the opportunity to put returnee as well as refugee needs and aspirations on to the agenda of [international] meet
ings, and to keep them there by persistent lobbying" (p. 12).
In a follow-up study to When Refugees Go Home, editor Tim Allen presents more than 20 papers that question many accepted truths about the situation of displaced peoples in Africa and about international relief and development efforts in Africa.
See In Search of Cool Ground: War, Flight and Homecoming in Northeast Africa (Allen 1996).
Displaced Peoples and Refugee Studies: A Resource Guide (Davies 1990) is the most thorough and up-to-date guide to library and other documentation sources for further study of involuntary migration on an international scale. Edited by the Refugee S
tudies Programme, University of Oxford, the clothbound reference book offers expert guidance to directories, handbooks, annuals, teaching aids, journals, monographs, and other printed resources on the worldwide problem of refugees and displaced persons. N
ames and contact information are also provided for research institutes, donor agencies and foundations, refugee network organizations, and libraries and documentation centers with holdings on the topic of refugees.
See also the volumes issued annually by the organizations listed below.
Landmines and refugees
"Landmines are undoubtedly the biggest impediment to
refugees going home."
This observation by Suzannah Cox, of the British Refugee
Council, underlines the importance of broadening the study of refugees to include critical--but little-known--factors like landmines as deadly obstacles to repatriation.
- Hidden Enemies: Land Mines in Northern Somalia (Physicians for Human Rights 1992)
- Killing Fields: The Deadly Legacy of Landmines. A 30-minute video from the Center for Defense Information (Washington, D.C.)
- Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights 1993)
- Violent Deeds Live On: Landmines in Somalia and Somaliland (African Rights and Mines Advisory Group 1993)
Contact:International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 54A Main St., Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 9LU England. Tel: 0900 828688. Fax: 0900 827088.
Reference and Periodical Resources
- Refugee Survey Quarterly. Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Centre for Documentation on Refugees (UNHCR/CDR), quarterly. Journal. By subscription. 150pp. ISSN 0253-1445. Country reports, documentation, literature survey, re
views, editorial, selected bibliography, index, advertisements. Articles appear in English or French.
This successor to the UNHCR's Refugee Abstracts publication provides current refugee, legal, and country information that reflects both the evolving nature of refugee protection as reflected in the refugee literature and case-law and the progress m
ade in the development of the UNHCR/CDR's unique databases of refugee-related information.
The Summer/Autumn 1994 issue of Refugee Survey Quarterly (Vol. 13, Nos. 2 and 3) was devoted to materials concerning Africa. Country reports in the issue covered Liberia, Somalia, and Rwanda.
- Refugees. Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Public Information Section, semi-annual. Magazine. Free. 32pp. ISSN 0252-791X. Articles, interviews, lists of resources, photographs, tables, charts, maps. Available in the USA fr
om the UNHCR, 1775 K St., NW, Ste. 300, Washington, DC 20006 USA. French-language edition also available.
Each issue of this colorful magazine from the UNHCR is devoted to the study of one aspect of the international situation of refugees and displaced persons. Typical subject areas include refugees and the environment, the costs associated with refugee relie
f, and the situation of internally displaced peoples.
Other sections in the magazine report on UNHCR activities, bring together a variety of points of view on specific refugee questions, and present the stories of individual refugee workers in the field.
- Refworld CD-ROM. Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Centre for Documentation on Refugees (UNHCR/CDR), semi-annual. CD-ROM. Windows/PC version. By subscription.
This Windows-based collection of easy-to-use databases was developed by the CDR to provide access to a variety of sources of public information on refugees around the world. Sources include official speeches of the High Commissioner dating back to Februar
y 1992, official publications such as the State of the World's Refugees, and reports on country situations that are based on fully cited sources such as those from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Immigration and Naturalization Servic
e of the United States, and WRITENET, a network of regional specialists.
Subscribers receive updates twice a year. A free demonstration version of the CD-ROM is available from the UNHCR/CDR in Geneva.
- Displaced Peoples and Refugee Studies: A Resource Guide. Julian Davies, comp. Refugee Studies Programme, University of Oxford. London and New Providence: Hans Zell Publishers, 1990. xii + 219 pp. Cloth. ISBN 0-905450-76-0. Index, list of abbrev
Materials are grouped under 10 chapter headings: (1) manuals and reference works; (2) bibliographies; (3) journals and magazines; (4) monographs; (5) dissertations; (6) major libraries and documentation centers; (7) publishers; (8) research and training c
enters; (9) courses of study; and (10) organizations, networks, and donor agencies.
Listings in chapters 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10 are subdivided by country. Indexes include names of authors and editors, the titles of written works, and the names of all organizations in the guide.
- World Refugee Survey 1997. U.S. Committee for Refugees. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Committee for Refugees, anstrong>Copyright © 1997 WorldViews. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form, or stored in a database
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