Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10 February 2019 (ECA) – The 32nd African Union summit opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday with United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, praising Africa’s commitment and generosity towards refugees.
Mr. Guterres said the continent, which hosts nearly a third of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons, was setting an example for richer countries when it comes to the treatment of refugees.
“Over many years, it has become clear to me: Africa’s generosity to those seeking havens from war and persecution is unmatched,” he said to applause from Africa’s leaders gathered for their summit that is being held under the theme; Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.
“Despite the continent’s own social, economic and security challenges, Africa’s governments and people have kept its borders, doors and hearts open to millions of people in need. Unfortunately, this example has not been followed everywhere.”
Africa, the UN Chief said, has set the gold standard for solidarity.
He said African leaders had at the end of 2018 helped secure the adoption of two pivotal Global Compacts on Refugees and on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
Mr. Guterres said there has been a quantum leap in the UN’s strategic cooperation with the African Union.
“We have signed Joint Frameworks on Peace and Security and on Sustainable Development. We have institutionalized UN-AU Annual Conferences at the summit level. We have conducted numerous joint high-level visits across the continent,” he said, adding he had recently signed a Joint Declaration on cooperation for peace support operations with AUC Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat.
“We have much to show from our combined efforts – and are better positioned to address our shared challenges,” said Mr. Guterres, adding peace and security, sustainable development and climate change were key issues under the UN-AU joint spotlight.
“On peace and security, strong winds of hope are blowing across the African continent. The fruits of our strategic partnerships are making a difference,” he added.
For his part, AUC Chairperson, Mr. Mahamat said of the refugee issue in Africa; “The scale and scope of these crises and their protracted nature require innovative and robust approaches that tackle the root causes.” Mahamat.
He pleaded with humanitarian and development actors to make more resources available to the most vulnerable populations on the continent.
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