Forced displacement and refugee problem in Africa arepervasive and as old as humanity; a source of social and public policy concernfor governments since the advent of post-colonial period (Rwamatwara, 2014).
Crisp (2006) stresses thesame and asserts that the post-colonial Africa has been marked by massivedisplacement of people. He states that in about the last four decades, millionsof people in Sub Saharan Africa and the continent at large, have been forced toleave their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries due to mainly armedconflicts, environmental hardships and poverty. This recurring mass displacementmade national governments, as well as regional authorities to go throughgradual processes of policy formulation and implementation in response to thespecific incidences of population movements. The responses ranged from open toclosed door policies to refugees. The 1960s was a period marked with countries within thecontinent practising open door policies for refugees; mostly running away fromliberation wars. Political refugees, especially those running away fromcolonial independence wars, from different parts of the continent weregenerously received and protection and assistance provided by the countries ofasylum throughout the continent, (Rutinwa, 1996). This period, describes byRutinwa, (1996) as the “Golden Age” in Refugee protection in Africa, sawAfricans being openly accepted and protected by other African governments asthey fled persecution by colonial governments.
This generous and compassionateattitude towards refugees and other victims by African societies was borne outof the collective struggles by Africans towards liberation of the continentfrom colonial chains, (Crisp, 2006; Rwamatwara, 2005). The generous attitudes by African societies towards refugees,however, changed after most of the countries attained internal self-governancein the 1970s to date. Internal conflicts and civil wars induced a new stream offorced displacements in the region, which did not elicit the same sympathy fromcountries of asylum, (Rutinwa, 1996). Instead, refugees were meted with denialsof their basic rights as stipulated in the international and regional refugeelegal instruments for refugee protection, as African countries started practisingclosed migration policies,(Crisp, 2006). This isdue mainly to the fact that people view the reasons for mass displacements assystemic and leadership failures by governments to handle internal conflictsand wrangles.
In other cases, it results from frustrations by hosts governmentsand communities for continuing to provide hospitality and assistance torefugees whose origin countries are not keen to sharing the responsibility orsolving the problem, (Rwamatwara, 2005).Besides, most African countries host large numbers ofrefugees without capacity and necessary means for up keep of refugees. Alsolack of viable policies, both regionally and internationally, regarding burden-sharingfor refugees and lack of goodwill and commitment from the internationalcommunity, for durable solutions makes most host countries reluctant to takemore refugees in their territories. Ramatwara, (2005) states that this lack ofcommitment and clearly laid down policies for refugee management by regionaland global refugee bodies immensely contribute to the repulsive treatment ofrefugees in the continent.
As a consequent of this, uncontrolled movements ofrefugees result in heightened insecurity and open violence as they move fromone country to another within the continent.Contrary to popular beliefs by many that majorities ofmigrants of African origin cross to Europe and other developed societies in theNorth, research has shown that this is far from the truth. Research hasactually shown that only 1.5% of Sub Saharan African emigrants live in Europeand approximately two-thirds of all migrants from Sub Saharan Africa actuallymigrate within the region (16.
3M), (Croll, Peter J, 2009).Sub Saharan Africa also has its fair share of displacedmigrants. It has the largest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) inthe world and hosts around 20% of the global refugee population. Some countriesin the region are both countries of origin as well as receiving states.
Others,apart from being sending and receiving states, serve as transit points.Currently Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Chad are among the top 10 countrieshosting the highest number of refugees in the world. 17 countries in Africahost refugee population of over 50,000 people each, (Croll, Peter J, 2009).Major Refugee Hosting Countries