Friday 4 April 2014


The production of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of ethnic and communal conflicts, national disasters and sundry causes in the twentieth century has spilled over into the twenty-first century. Perhaps apart from the huge external debts owed outside sources, there is nothing else as pervading as the painfully agonizing issue of refugees and displaced persons. They both seem to defy early solution and seem to emanate from the same denominator.

While the debts represent squandered resources, the refugee problem bears vivid witness to squandered opportunities to build healthy nations out of independent Africa. From Western Sahara through Liberia, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Angola and Zaire, there is hardly much going on apart from the issue of refugees and to accommodate, care for and feed them. Refugees have spilled over not only to neighboring countries, but in nearly all cases, their presence is felt across the entire continent and even beyond.

The refugee situation is painful and destructive for even citizens who survive wars and natural disasters. The tragic crises which uproot whole communities and nation-states, lead to the dislocation of the populace, both within and demarcated territories. The displaced persons are traumatized, their social and economic lives are disrupted. The limited resources of the host or recipient country which accommodates these refugees are stretched to unbearable limits.

The host country soon experiences increase in crime rate, diseases and breach of cultural norms as a result of the influx of refugees. Oftentimes, these refugees overstay their welcome. Even for the refugee-producing countries, life cannot be the same with the rushed exodus of erstwhile compatriots. The destruction of highly-priced property and the damage of the national psyche are sore points.

We are at the stage today, where Africans, their governments and organizations need to do more in terms of quality of assistance and timeliness of intervention to alleviate the suffering of their displaced brothers and sisters. Women, children and aged, the poor and the lowly are invariably the ready victims.

We therefore need to speedily address the refugee crisis by probing further to ascertain the root causes in order to halt the cycle of conflict/national disasters - IDPs/Refugees. The forced migration of today, that takes the form of refugee-generation, is perniciously distracting the populace from normal economic pursuit at a time when knowledge and boundless opportunities exist for economic growth and development. Besides, the trans-border nature of today's forced displacement is negatively affecting both individuals and state organizations. There is therefore a pressing need to delve into the causes of Africa's refugee phenomenon and proffer enduring solutions.

See my Blog post on my 2010 publication titled: 'The African Refugee Phenomenon' by  Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

Refugees and IDPs can be classified into three broad categories based on the prevailing causes:

1) Crisis refugees as a result of human conflicts. A small segment of this group could be political refugees who could end up as asylum seekers.

2) Environmental refugees resulting from natural and environmental disasters, such as earthquake, flood and desertification.

3) Economic refugees consist of individuals/groups that are unable to support themselves in their places of usual abode. They become IDPs or refugees in order to enhance their economic status...

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