Enhancing the Architecture of Protection for the Forcibly Displaced in Africa
The displaced are often the most visible, and the most vulnerable, in conflict situations around the world. Protection for these populations is necessary, not only to safeguard the human rights of those affected, but also to build sustainable peace.
Africa is a microcosm of both the major challenges to, and opportunities for, innovative approaches to the protection of the displaced globally. It leads the way in the development of new norms and polices. Over the past five years, IRRI has influenced debates on displacement and protection through offering advice on the development and use of regional legal mechanisms, conducting thorough social science research, and supporting local civil society advocates to intervene in specific situations where refugee rights are under threat.
- Leveraging legal frameworks: At the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights IRRI has helped to take forward refugee rights through support for litigation and institutional developments at the Commission.. In the Great Lakes Region, IRRI has established itself as an expert on the Pact on Security, Stability and Development, a package of new legal instruments and programs with tremendous implications for the situation of the displaced, and is
supporting local organisations to leverage these instruments on their behalf.
- Research: IRRI’s research program enhances the timeliness and effectiveness of advocacy around the rights of the forcibly displaced in both emergency and long term contexts. We engage in legal and field-based research to better understand the situation of conflict affected communities bringing new insight and credibility to our advocacy with policy makers.
- Capacity building and networking: IRRI establishes linkages and helps build the capacity of civil society working to promote the rights of the forcibly displaced.
Resisting Repatriation: Burundian Refugees Struggling to Stay in Tanzania
(4 October 2011) On 25 May 2011, a Tripartite Commission comprised of the governments of Tanzania and Burundi and the UNHCR met to discuss the future of approximately 38,000 refugees in Mtabila camp in Tanzania. The talks ended with a decision to close the camp on 31 December 2011. The government of Tanzania has announced that they expect a renewed repatriation drive to start imminently and that they are prepared to revoke the refugee status of the group “if need be.”
Although refugees in Mtabila camp have been resisting return for more than two years, weathering numerous “deadlines” for repatriation and the steady withdrawal of services, there is growing fear among refugees that the current deadline of 31 December 2011 is going to lead to forcible repatriation.
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Recent publications of the International Refugee Rights Initiative related to Refugee Law & Policy:
Lucy Hovil and Theodore Mbazumutima, "Tanzania's Mtabila Camp Finally Closed," December 2012
IRRI Organizes Workshop on Democracy, Governance and Youth, September 2012.
Lucy Hovil, “Gender, Transitional Justice, and Displacement: Challenges in Africa’s Great Lakes Region”, August 2012.
Lucy Hovil, “The Nexus between Displacement and Transitional Justice: A Gender-Justice Dimension”, in Transitional Justice and Displacement, published by the Social Science Research Council, August 2012.
International Refugee Rights Initiaitive and Rema Ministries, "An urgent briefing on the situation of Burundian refugees in Mtabila camp in Tanzania," August 2012.
Lucy Hovil, "The Nexus between Forced Migration and Transitional Justice" in Where Law Meets Reality Forging African Transitional Justice, Edited by Moses Chrispus Okello, Chris Dolan, Undine Whande, Nokukhanya Mncwabe, Levis Onegi, Stephen Oola, July 2012. Available for puchase here.
"Mass Removal of Rwandans from Ugandan Refugee Settlements," Press Statement by the International Refugee Rights Initiative and the Refugee Law Project, July 15, 2010.
"Naturalisation of Burundian refugees in Tanzania: A new home?," April 29, 2010.
"Sound alarm bells over forced repatriation," January 2010.