Forced liberation of the continent from colonial chains, (Crisp,

Forced displacement and refugee problem in Africa are
pervasive and as old as humanity; a source of social and public policy concern
for governments since the advent of post-colonial period (Rwamatwara, 2014). Crisp (2006) stresses the
same and asserts that the post-colonial Africa has been marked by massive
displacement of people. He states that in about the last four decades, millions
of people in Sub Saharan Africa and the continent at large, have been forced to
leave their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries due to mainly armed
conflicts, environmental hardships and poverty. This recurring mass displacement
made national governments, as well as regional authorities to go through
gradual processes of policy formulation and implementation in response to the
specific incidences of population movements. The responses ranged from open to
closed door policies to refugees. 

The 1960s was a period marked with countries within the
continent practising open door policies for refugees; mostly running away from
liberation wars. Political refugees, especially those running away from
colonial independence wars, from different parts of the continent were
generously received and protection and assistance provided by the countries of
asylum throughout the continent, (Rutinwa, 1996). This period, describes by
Rutinwa, (1996) as the “Golden Age” in Refugee protection in Africa, saw
Africans being openly accepted and protected by other African governments as
they fled persecution by colonial governments. This generous and compassionate
attitude towards refugees and other victims by African societies was borne out
of the collective struggles by Africans towards liberation of the continent
from colonial chains, (Crisp, 2006; Rwamatwara, 2005).

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The generous attitudes by African societies towards refugees,
however, changed after most of the countries attained internal self-governance
in the 1970s to date. Internal conflicts and civil wars induced a new stream of
forced displacements in the region, which did not elicit the same sympathy from
countries of asylum, (Rutinwa, 1996). Instead, refugees were meted with denials
of their basic rights as stipulated in the international and regional refugee
legal instruments for refugee protection, as African countries started practising
closed migration policies,
(Crisp, 2006). This is
due mainly to the fact that people view the reasons for mass displacements as
systemic and leadership failures by governments to handle internal conflicts
and wrangles. In other cases, it results from frustrations by hosts governments
and communities for continuing to provide hospitality and assistance to
refugees whose origin countries are not keen to sharing the responsibility or
solving the problem, (Rwamatwara, 2005).

Besides, most African countries host large numbers of
refugees without capacity and necessary means for up keep of refugees. Also
lack of viable policies, both regionally and internationally, regarding burden-sharing
for refugees and lack of goodwill and commitment from the international
community, for durable solutions makes most host countries reluctant to take
more refugees in their territories. Ramatwara, (2005) states that this lack of
commitment and clearly laid down policies for refugee management by regional
and global refugee bodies immensely contribute to the repulsive treatment of
refugees in the continent. As a consequent of this, uncontrolled movements of
refugees result in heightened insecurity and open violence as they move from
one country to another within the continent.

Contrary to popular beliefs by many that majorities of
migrants of African origin cross to Europe and other developed societies in the
North, research has shown that this is far from the truth. Research has
actually shown that only 1.5% of Sub Saharan African emigrants live in Europe
and approximately two-thirds of all migrants from Sub Saharan Africa actually
migrate within the region (16.3M), (Croll, Peter J, 2009).

Sub Saharan Africa also has its fair share of displaced
migrants. It has the largest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in
the world and hosts around 20% of the global refugee population. Some countries
in 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 countries
hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. 17 countries in Africa
host refugee population of over 50,000 people each, (Croll, Peter J, 2009).

Major Refugee Hosting Countries