Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said the reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the peace agreements in South Sudan indicate a "wind of hope" that is blowing through Africa. Guterres made his remarks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday February 9th a day before African leaders gather for the African Union Summit.
"I believe Africa is becoming an example where it is possible to solve and prevent conflicts. I hope and believe that this could be extended to other parts of the world," Guterres told reporters at the African Union Headquarters, also urging the international community to do more. "We need to tell the international community that we need more political will for development cooperation. There is no peace without development. Also, more political will is needed in relation to the ambition in climate change… for mitigation, adaptation and financing."
The UN Chief stressed that the world is losing the race with climate change and this can be a disaster for Africa and the world. "Africa will even pay a higher price because of the dramatic impacts… and Africa doesn't contribute much to the warming of the planet," he said.
This year's African Union leaders Summit has a theme, "Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa" and it is expected to discuss issues related to it in detail. But still, as in the past, peace and security issues are expected to dominate the Summit.
African leaders are also expected to garner support from a wide variety of AU partners for the theme of the year 2019, which focuses on root causes of and solutions to displacement by force.
"It will also serve as a forum for AU partners to exchange views on root causes of forced displacement and ways to achieve durable solutions and communicate concrete and actionable recommendations with AU policy organs," Sulaiman Momodu, Reporting Officer UNHCR Representation to the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, told the DPA (UN Department of Political Affairs).
According to UNHCR, currently over a third of the world's forcibly displaced persons are in Africa, including 6.3 million refugees and asylum seekers and 14.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). The region also hosts 712,000 stateless persons.
"They are hosted in urban or rural areas, camps or settlements but increasingly in host communities. Conflicts, natural disasters, the effects of climate change and other factors have left a large number of civilians in need of humanitarian assistance," Sulaiman said. "The root causes for displacement situations are multi-faceted, context-specific and require different strategic responses by states, humanitarian and development actors. Whilst states remain central in finding political solutions to crises, the role of regional and international actors in these efforts is crucial."
Guterres added that Africa is a continent where borders are open for refugees and where refugees are protected. "It is an example for the world. It is a sort of solidarity the rest of the world especially the richest part of the world should be able to follow. Migration in Africa has been managed in a more humane way. So, my strong appeal is for what was agreed about refugees to be effectively implemented," he said.