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Fraud in Africa Priority Three (P-3) Program (Nov. 12)  Fact Sheet
P-2 Designation for Eritrean Refugees in Shimelba Camp, Ethiopia (Oct. 7)  Fact Sheet 

Where do you work in the region?

The refugee situation across the continent is complex and dynamic. Almost all African countries host refugees; many generate them as well. In a number of cases they are both host and generator. There is broad Bureau involvement across the continent; there is not a refugee/conflict victim humanitarian situation with which we are not involved given our mandate.

African Refugees

(estimates as of April 2008)

Source:  UNHCR

450,000 Somalis

290,000 Burundi (440,000 returnees)

300,000 Congolese (150,000 returnees)

500,000 Sudanese (250,000 returnees)

150,000 Eritreans

100,000 Angolans (400,000 returnees)

100,000 Central Africans (CAR)

  90,000 W. Saharans

75,000 Liberians (250,000+ returnees)

70,000 Rwandans (1,000,000+ returnees)

60,000 Chadians

34,000 Ethiopians

30,000 Mauritanians

15,000 Cote d’Ivoirians

14,000 Senegalese

10,000 Togolese

10,000 Sierra Leoneans


Total: ~ 2,500,000

Map of Africa

4,500,000 Sudanese

1,200,000 Ugandans

1,000,000 Congolese

1,000,000 Somalis

  700,000 Ivoirians

  250,000 Kenyans

  200,000 CAR

  200,000 Chadians

  100,000 Burundi

Total:  ~ 9,950,000

What are the major challenges for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region?

  • Our major priorities and challenges in Africa include supporting durable solutions, ensuring humanitarian space, supporting emergency response, and maintaining minimum standards of assistance and protection for African refugees and conflict victims.
  • On durable solutions, we are supporting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR's) efforts to repatriate and reintegrate up to 500,000 refugees this year including to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Mauritania, and South Sudan. We expect about 30% of our Africa budget this year to be devoted to supporting voluntary repatriation through UNHCR and other international organization (IO) and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners.
  • We also continue to seek refugee referrals from UNHCR throughout the continent so that the most vulnerable refugees, those who may never be able to return home due to a well-founded fear of persecution, may be considered for resettlement to the United States.
  • We are extremely concerned about security and political restrictions on humanitarian space in places such as Somalia, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Darfur, and Ethiopia. We continue to advocate with governments to allow access for humanitarian relief programs, and are also financially supporting key efforts such as the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic in Chad (MINURCAT) to provide enhanced security for refugee and IDP relief operations.

How much Bureau funding went to projects in your region in fiscal year 2007 (October 2006 – September 30, 2007)?

The Bureau programmed approximately $300 million for refugees, returnees, and IDPs in Africa -- 35% of our overseas assistance budget.

Where are your refugee coordinators based? Which countries do they cover?

Our regional refugee coordinator in Ndjamena covers Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and Darfur (Sudan).

In Kampala – Burundi, DRCongo, ROCongo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

In Addis Ababa – Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan.

In Accra and Nairobi, we have Admissions refugee coordinators who split the continent.

Which are the largest and/or most complex projects you fund?

Repatriation and reintegration projects in places such as southern Sudan, Burundi, DRCongo, Angola, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have involved multiple countries, have taken place over a number of years, have required close coordination where there are both returning refugees and returning internally displaced persons (IDPs), and have tried (but not in the main succeeded) to close the relief to development gap.

Our colleagues in the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) have described the Chad/CAR/Darfur area as a “complex regional protracted emergency”, which is a good label. The conflicts in the three countries are distinct but intertwined, requiring a sophisticated analysis that is often beyond the patience of many observers. Sustaining 250,000 Darfur refugees and 180,000 Chadian internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the harsh remote area of eastern Chad has required enormous support -- some $40 million annually from the U.S. Government alone.

Which programs are the newest? Which ones are the oldest? Which have ended recently due to the end of a refugee crisis?

Among the newest Bureau programs have been emergency response to:

  • May 2008 attacks on foreigners in South Africa including refugees and asylum seekers but mostly undocumented migrants;
  • Chadian refugee flows to Cameroon after a rebel attack on Ndjamena in February 2008; and
  • Massive displacement in Kenya (and small refugee flows to Uganda and Tanzania ) following January 2008 communal violence after the flawed presidential elections of December 2007.

In the area of durable solutions:

  • Support for the repatriation and reintegration of Mauritanian refugees who fled to Senegal in 1989 made possible by a positive change of government in Mauritania in April 2007.

For decades, we have contributed to UNHCR's and ICRC's Africa-wide programs that address ongoing protection and assistance needs of refugees and conflict victims in protracted situations.

Examples of groups that we have helped include:

  • 200,000 1972-era Burundi refugees, whose situation is now (we hope) about to be resolved through a combination of local integration and naturalization in Tanzania, return to Burundi for a small number, and U.S. resettlement consideration for those who continue to have a well-founded fear of persecution should they return; 
  • Eritrean refugees who fled to Sudan in the 1970s/1980s, or even earlier, when Eritrea was part of Ethiopia;
  • Western Sahara refugees who fled to Algeria beginning in 1975;
  • Southern Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons from the 1983-2005 civil war;
  • Victims of the decades-long Casamance (Senegal ) conflict;
  • Somali refugees who fled civil war beginning in 1988; and
  • Residual Angolan refugees who have not yet found a durable solution.

Examples of the end of refugee crises, and the end of Bureau programming:

  • Programs to support refugee reintegration in Liberia, Burundi, and southern Sudan are on their way to wrapping up – for this round of conflict. [Note. This is the second time civil war has ended in Sudan, including refugee return, and the third Liberian repatriation since a series of warfare broke out there in 1989.]
  • Support for return and reintegration of refugees from Sierra Leone and Angola ended in the last two years.

Where refugees and conflict victims achieve a good measure of self-reliance, Bureau assistance programming may be able to be reduced, but many of the current refugees across Africa are living in remote and/or inhospitable places where self-sufficiency is almost impossible.

  • An exception would be refugees from the Central African Republic in southern Chad who could become largely self-reliant assuming they receive adequate seeds and tools.

Which NGO partners are active in your region?

Action Against Hunger 
Agence d'aide à lacoopération technique et au developpement (ACTED)
American Red Cross
American Refugee Committee 
Catholic Relief Services
Center for Victims of Torture 
Christian Children's Fund 
Christian Outreach and Development Organization
Cooperative Housing Foundation
Food for the Hungry International
Handicap International 
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
International Medical Corps 
International Relief and Development
International Rescue Committee
Jesuit Refugee Services 
Lutheran World Federation/Relief
Médecins Sans Frontières (not funded by the USG at present)
Mercy Corps 
Mines Action Advisory Group
Norwegian Peoples' Aid 
Refugee Education Trust 
Relief International 
Right to Play 
Save the Children
Search for Common Ground 
United Methodist Committee on Relief 
Women for Women International 
World Concern
World Relief
World Vision

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