Gigaba to attend AU Special Summit

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pretoria - Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba on Sunday departed for Uganda to attend the African Union's Special Summit of Heads of State and Government to discuss forced displacement of people in Africa.

The AU Special Summit, expected to take place between 23 and 24 October 2009 in Kampala, has been convened specifically to discuss the challenge of forced displacement of people in the African continent.

The summit will be preceded by a meeting of Ministers and/or Deputy Ministers of Home Affairs.

Gigaba is leading the South African government delegation to the summit and will represent President Jacob Zuma and Minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the summit.

Dlamini Zuma, speaking at the 60th Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland recently, expressed the African Union's concern at the protracted refugee situation in Africa and the serious challenges faced by refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP).

"We are also concerned at the negative impact in the host countries, many of which have fragile socio-economic conditions, in this regard.

"The decision of the EXCOM Member States to discuss this matter at this session is timely and of critical importance. We believe that Member States will continue to work towards a solution so that we can adopt the conclusion," said Dr Dlamini Zuma.

She further noted that while globally the number of refugees has decreased, the number of IDPs had increased and that Africa hosted the largest number of IDPs.

Dlamini Zuma said the majority of these refugees and IDPs had been in exile and displacement for several years and in some cases even for decades, depriving millions of able and willing citizens the opportunity to build peaceful lives and contribute to the continents development.

"When such a large number of people are forced to live in camps and settlements with very limited rights and opportunities, it could expose them to security threats including possible recruitments into armed groups."

The minister added that the country was looking forward to working with the United National High Commissioner for Refugees and other partners to develop sustainable solutions for addressing the challenge of forced displacement in Africa.