EAC to partner with other stakeholders to improve refugee welfare in East Africa
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 20th November, 2023: The East African Community remains committed to partnering with all stakeholders to develop policies and guidelines to ensure that human rights violations and challenges facing refugees in East Africa are addressed.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Infrastructure, Productive, Social and Political Sectors, Hon. Andrea Aguer Ariik Malueth, further said that the EAC was working to address state fragility, establish and monitor regional peace mechanisms, implement democratic electoral processes, promote regional/bilateral mediation and reconciliation processes and support transitional justice processes in the region.
Hon. Ariik said that EAC was also pursuing a regional approach on economic inclusion through investment in climate reform, financial inclusion and private sector investments in refugee hosting communities and returnees’ areas.
“We are currently working to finalise and adopt the EAC Regional Refugee Management Policy and develop costed action plans to ensure hamornised regional approaches that are consistent with international standards including access to quality asylum procedures, protection and assistance, digital identity documents, family unity and durable solutions.
Hon. Ariik was speaking during a courtesy call at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania by the Director of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes, Mr. Mamadou Dian Balde. Hon. Ariik received the UNHCR official on behalf of the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki.
The DSG disclosed that the EAC was also developing joint guidelines on the inclusion of the forcibly displaced and stateless populations, in particular women and youth in humanitarian, peace and development processes.
Hon. Ariik said that the region was enjoying a relative calm state of peace and security except in Eastern DRC which for the last three decades has experienced insecurity and under-development.
“This state of affairs has led to internally displaced persons in Eastern DRC and refugees in neighbouring countries,” he added.
The DSG said that to address the issue of refugees and asylum seekers in the EAC region, Article 10 of the Protocol on Peace and Security establishes common mechanisms for the management of refugees.
He observed that EAC and UNHCR have enjoyed a cordial relationship over the years and it was against this background that both parties had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that among other things stipulates cooperation on preserving and promoting the right to seek and enjoy asylum for persons in need.
On his part the UNCHR Director for East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes, Mr. Balde, said that the UN agency was mobilising support to enable it assist the EAC to better manage refugee matters.
Mr. Balde emphasised the importance of supporting refugees on the continent to live a better life by equipping them with life skills through training so that their lives are not wasted.
The UNHCR official said that it was the dream of every refugee to have better life and return to their homes once things stabilise.
Also present at the meeting were the UNHCR Senior Legal Officer for East Africa, Mr. Peter Muriuki, the EAC Police Liaison Officer, Mr. Julius Mbati, the Principal International Relations Officer, Ms. Suma Mwakyusa and the Principal Labour and Employment Officer, Mr. Stephen Niyonzima.
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Simon Peter Owaka
About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of seven Partner States, comprising the Republic of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of South Sudan, the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
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