EAC, UNHCR to Collaborate in Protection of Refugees
East African Community Secretariat; Arusha, Tanzania; 22 March 2017:
The East African Community (EAC) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have today agreed to collaborate in the promotion of the rights of refugees, including the protection of forcibly displaced people and regulatory regimes affecting the movement of persons, immigration and refugee management.
The agreement came during the bilateral discussion between the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko and UNHCR representative and Head of Regional Service Centre (RSC), East, Horn of Africa and Great lakes Region, Ms Victoria Akyeampong, when she paid a courtesy call on the Secretary General this morning in Arusha, Tanzania.
Speaking during the discussions, the EAC Secretary General noted that despite forced displacement plaguing the Community for a long time, durable solutions were being found for hundreds of thousands of refugees.
‘’I am happy today that we have agreed to work together. Our region has for a long time suffered a lot in the context of refugees and that explains why in the EAC we look at the refugee issue as one of the critical areas of regional integration’’, noted Secretary General.
Amb. Mfumukeko commended the good work done by UNHCR in protection of rights of refugees such as access to asylum, health, education, employment, repatriation and housing. ‘’I believe we have a lot to work together towards securing our society in promoting the rights of refugees.’’
On her part, Ms Victoria Akyeampong, said that the refugees situation in the East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region is too alarming. “Thus why we look forward to work together with EAC in the context of refugees and develop a common mechanism of refugee management that will be based on international standards”.
The two officials agreed to form a task force to work on areas of collaborations to ensure the regional common mechanism of management of refugees is developed and implemented. The taskforce will also be expected to review the status of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the EAC Secretariat and UNHCR with a view to identifying implementation challenges and chart out the way forward.
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Notes to Editor:
The MoU between the UNHCR and EAC was signed on 9th March, 2010. The MoU establishes a framework for cooperation between the EAC and UNHCR in five areas of common concern and cooperation, including Conflict Prevention and Peace-building; Early Warning and Response; Movement of Persons, Immigration and Movements and the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in East Africa
The Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC requires Partner States to establish common mechanisms for the management of refugees. The Protocol on the Establishment of the EAC Common Market, also guarantees the free movement of persons in the Community and calls the Partner States to ensure that the movement of refugees within the Community are governed by the relevant international conventions.
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About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.