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African Union adopts refugee pact

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th October 2009 03:00 AM

A Summit of African leaders yesterday adopted the African Union Convention on the protection of refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees.

A Summit of African leaders yesterday adopted the African Union Convention on the protection of refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees.

By Milton Olupot
and Cyprian Musoke


A Summit of African leaders yesterday adopted the African Union Convention on the protection of refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees.

The leaders undertook to address under-development and unemployment as causes of forced displacement on the continent.

A total of 46 countries took part in the special summit on refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in Africa that was held at the Speke Resort Munyonyo.

Seventeen countries signed the declaration at the end of the summit.
The convention and summit under the theme: “African Union addressing the challenges of forced displacement in Africa,” sought to address issues of displacement in a more exhaustive manner.

The AU Commissioner for Political affairs Ms. Julia Dolly Joiner who represented the Union Chairperson Jean Ding, said the declaration was a ray of hope to achieving the dream of a peaceful and prosperous Africa. She said however complex the implementation, the commission would draw inspiration from the commitment of the heads of governments.

President Yoweri Museveni called on the other countries which have not signed the declaration to do so urgently.

For the pact to be operational, 15 of the AU’s 53 members must ratify it.
The President said development is the answer to all the problems of refugees. “A narrow economy is the cause of all the tension we have. if people are economically empowered, there will be no need for these squabbles,” he said.

Museveni gave examples of power consumption, where he said all African rivers have a potential of producing only 300,000 megawatts of electricity.

He said to complement this limited power resource, there is need for exploitation of nuclear energy. While in America, the kilowatt per capita is 14,000, the President said in Africa it was between 12 and 500, which he said was so insufficient. “In the Security Council, we discussed nuclear energy, and I told them that Africa needs nuclear energy, not for bombs like those terrorists, but for productive use,” he said.

The countries that signed were; Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Somalia, Burundi, Equatoria Guinea, Central African Republic, Namibia, Ethiopia, Gambia, the Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Among the key resolutions, the parties called for an end to external interference such as the support for mercenaries and sponsoring of armed groups that have fuelled conflict in Africa. They also called for the ratification of the African Charter on democracy, elections and governance.

They vowed to create conducive conditions for voluntary return, local integration or settlement.

They condemned impunity, rape, sexual abuse and all forms of gender based violence as a weapon of war and pledged legal advice, support and counseling for victims, together with medical attention.

“We commit ourselves to ensure access to primary, secondary and post secondary education for children, girls and women,” the declaration read. They also pledged to give assistance to projects to benefit displaced populations.

African Union adopts refugee pact

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