By and large African refugees have until recently been rural to rural migrants covering short distance and settling in the closest neighboring countries. This phenomenon has now changed mainly due to better means of transportation and also due to the availability of more information about different counters of asylum.
As a result, African refugees are covering long distances and settling in places that provide them with better opportunities.
Further factor is that African refugees are not only peasant and uneducated farmers from the country side. There are also many skilled and highly educated African refugees. Their number is also increasing. These refugees of urban backgrounder do not want to settle in rural areas and be unproductive.
They want to move to urban areas where they can look for better and suitable jobs. Consequently, countries like Ethiopia have found their towns swollen by in- migrating refugees. While many of them are urban migrants and hence posses much higher level of education and skill than the traditional African rural to rural refugees, the effect of such types of refugees on host African countries like Ethiopia is simply enormous.
Why do Africans leave their country?
There are varieties of socio economic and political factors responsible for the departure of Africans from their country of origin. Some of them leave purely for economic reasons i.e. in order to look for a better paying job elsewhere thereby improve their economic situation.
Majority of Africans on the other hand are forced to leave their countries purely for political reasons. This can be due to ethnic, tribal and religious inequalities that lead to conflict and civil wars. In such a case, Africans who opposed their government are considered hostile and in most cases are persecuted or imprisoned. Thus, to escape, they flee for safety and look for safe heaven elsewhere. Most African refugees that reside outside their countries are therefore in this category.
Generally, within the continent of Africa, there has been conflict after conflicts, war, revolution, coups and counter coups since political independence. Thus, different factors have forced millions of Africans left their homes in order to either stay safe elsewhere until conditions get better to return home or establish military bases within nearby places in order to conduct armed struggle against the system they opposed or against the government that forced them to leave their country. The following are some of the example of refugee’s movements in Africa.
1. Ewe refugees from Ghana have entered Togo following their effort to re-unite ‘’ewe land ‘’ which has been split between the state of Ghana and Togo since colonial days.
2. The civil war between Tutsi and Hutu of Rwanda thus, refugees were settled in Burundi ,Uganda, Zaire , and Tanzania
3. In the year directly following independence, Zaire suffered prolonged civil war which disrupted civilian life and forced thousands leave their villages and fly to safety in all nine neighboring countries, most notably the central part of African republic, The Sudan, Uganda ,Burundi and Tanzania.
4. The history of The Sudan resulted in a separate economic, cultural religious and heritages from the Northern Sudan. The government was unable to integrate in satisfactory political terms. The ensuing civil war caused successive waves of refugees from the southern in large number to Uganda, Zaire, and Central Africa and to Ethiopia.
5. Armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea resulted in a refugees flow in to the Sudan.
6. Members of the lumpa sect left Zambia to become refugee in Zaire after armed assertion of their religious separation culminated in violent clashes with Zambian authorities.
7. Nigerian nationalists living in number in West African countries especially in Equatorial Guinea became refugees’ sur-place when they were unwilling or unable to return to Nigeria after the civil war. Other Nigerian refugees enter to nearby countries: The Ivory Coast and Gabon, as a result of war.
8. A refugee’s situation of a somewhat different nature occurred when the government of Uganda forced Asians of undetermined nationality to migrate to Asia.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide has topped 65 million; most refugees are from Syria and of the 80 percent are women and children in life saving camps in more than 125 countries.
Among them nearly 22.5million refugees over half of whom are under the age of 18. Nearly twenty people are forcefully displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution.
One in every113 people on the planet is now a refugee. Generally, according to UNHCR, Africa has 4.413 million Refugees, Europe 4.391 million, Asia and Pacific 3.830 million, Middle East and North 2.239 million, and Americas 746,800, Sub Saharan Africa hosts more than 26 percent of the world’s refugee population. Ethiopia is a host to the second largest refugees in Africa; [900,000] from nineteen countries mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Yemen. Ethiopia hosts 382,322 refugees from South Sudan alone. Majority of those refugees are located in Tigray, Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Somali Regional States.
What are the effects of African refugees on most Host African Countries? Please see tomorrow’s edition …
YOHANNES GEBRESELLASIE (PH.D)
SOURCE: The Ethiopian Herald