The expert workshop panel in the opening remarks on the first day. UNDP Egypt/Fatma Elzahraa Yassin

As prepared for Delivery

By:  Randa Aboul-Hosn, UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt


Your Excellency Ambassador Hamdi Loza, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Karim Atassi, Representative to Egypt and the League of Arab States, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Mr. Renny Mike Wafula, Policy Officer/ Senior Humanitarian Officer, Political Affairs Department, African Union (AU)

Ms. Neveen El Husseiny, Minister Plenipotentiary, Migration, Refugee and Combating Human Trafficking Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

CCCPA Director, Ambassador Ashraf Swelam



Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to address the Expert Workshop on Africa’s Forcibly Displaced: From Ad Hoc Responses to Durable Solutions. Today’s workshop is a crucial milestone as it will provide inputs for the Aswan Report on Sustainable Peace and Development, which will be prepared and shared ahead of the Forum and be used as the basis of the discussion during the Aswan Forum.

Firstly, let me take this opportunity to congratulate Egypt on its leading role and commitment to peace and security in Africa and the remarkable work being done in support of the African Union as a chair country of the AU.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Migration and displacement have reached unprecedented levels. One in seven people on the planet is on the move. More than 258 million people live outside their country of origin. Many are regular women and men hoping to enhance their livelihoods and send money back home. However, there are also 70.8 million people, almost 1 percent of the world’s population, who are forcibly displaced, including over 25.9 million refugees, approximately 3.5 million asylum seekers  and 41.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). While the sheer numbers have grown, so too has the average duration of displacement, which is now 17 years. Also shifting is the number of urban refugees, with 61 percent now living in cities and navigating their challenges.

According to the UNHCR 2019 Global Trends report the 70 million or more people fleeing their home in 2018 is highest level in almost 70 years and twice the level of displacement seen 20 years ago.

Also according to the UNHCR 2019 report: Seven of the 10 nations listed as the major source nations of refugees, or those who are displaced and living under refugee-like conditions, are on the African continent. South Sudan and Somalia are among the top five, along with Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar. The others are Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Eritrea and Burundi. Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia remain among the 10 leading nations, in terms of raw numbers, that are accepting refugees. About a third of the world’s refugees have been welcomed by the least developed nations such as Tanzania, while the proportion of refugees relative to the population remains high in others. These include Chad and Djibouti, as well as Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

UNDP’s development approach takes into consideration both migration and displacement and therefore focuses on four specific areas below.

1.     Overall, UNDP’s work focuses on addressing the root causes of displacement and negative drivers of migration, supporting governments to integrate migration and displacement into development plans and Sustainable Development Goals, building the resilience of migrants /IDPs/refugees/returnees and host communities to be able to cope, recover and sustain development gains during large movements; and creating conditions for return and/or sustainable re/integration in communities. 

2.     UNDP aims to improve the access of migrants, refugees, internally displaced people and host communities to services and socio-economic opportunities at the local level by leveraging digitalization, which has opened the way to new identification mechanisms, and can facilitate access to financing opportunities, labor markets, business development support, and pathways to education and health services.

3.     Countries will benefit from orderly, productive forms of migration. Integrating immigrants in destination countries in a safe and orderly manner could add between $800 billion to $1 trillion to the global economy on a yearly basis. The figure could even double if innovation, cultural enrichment, skills transfer, and networking are taken into account. Similarly, more evidence is emerging of the positive contribution refugees make to local economies. The cost of exclusion if far higher than the cost of inclusion. 

4.     UNDP also supports reinforcing capacities of justice, security and human rights institutions to play a key role in the protection and promotion of rights of displaced populations and host communities. This includes working with security actors to be more responsive to the concerns of displaced communities, promoting access to justice and dispute resolution processes to leave no one behind, and supporting local human rights protection systems, including national human rights institutions, to uphold the rights of displaced communities, including those related to housing, land and property rights, protection from exploitation and abuse, access to legal identity, etc. Effective rule of law institutions are not only essential to improving safety and addressing grievances and reparations for rights violations for displaced communities, they are also central to removing discriminations and exclusive policies and legislative frameworks.

Allow me to share with you a few examples:

Displacement in Somalia: Together with other agencies in the government-led Durable Solutions Initiative in Somalia, UNDP has supported the elaboration of a National Development Plan. Other humanitarian and development partners, international financial institutions, civil society, and the private sector have also played a key role in supporting the government. The NDP demonstrates a whole-of-society approach to addressing the root causes of displacement and finding durable solutions for displaced people in Somalia. The NDP is also anchored in the New York Declaration and creates linkages between global, regional and national processes. Somalia’s national development plan incorporates a comprehensive approach to displacement, including refugee return and solutions for IDPs. Chad, Cameroon, and Niger have also followed suit. However, more needs to be done. The 2017 UNHCR report on Alternatives to Camp highlights that only 11 percent of countries in which UNHCR is operational have refugees fully integrated into national development plans.

Supporting refugees, IDPs and host communities to cope, recover and sustain development gains in crisis and post crisis (‘Resilience-based development’)

Nigeria: The north-east region of Nigeria has become the epitome of insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria. The violence of Boko Haram that erupted in 2009 and the resulting military operations left about 7.7 million people in need of urgent humanitarian support. These include 1.6 million IDPs and 1.3 million returnees as of January 2018 in the three most heavily affected States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

UNDP launched its integrated early recovery programme, “Integrated Community Stabilization Programme,” to provide multisectoral early recovery support for the affected communities, including support for the return of IDPs to their place of origin. With an area-based approach to the communities affected by the conflicts and displacement, UNDP’s integrated support focuses on: 1) enhancing livelihoods of conflict-affected people; 2) restoring basic services in target communities; 3) establishing effective and accountable local governance at community and state level; and 4) rebuilding social cohesion and re-establishing community security.

From 2016 to 2017, UNDP supported a number of these early recovery, social cohesion and livelihoods projects. Interventions resulted in the rebuilding of over 300 houses for resettlement of IDPs/returnees; reconstruction of over 30 public structures including schools, hospitals, local government secretariats and police stations; provision of cash for work (earning opportunities), technical and vocational skills, and small businesses for more than 3,200 IDPs/returnees; support to over 20,000 farmers and female-headed households with agricultural inputs and agro-processing equipment. In addition to this, 200 schools received solar power facilities; over 800 police/law enforcement officers were trained on protection of civilian and de-radicalization; 700 community leaders were trained on social cohesion and community reconciliation; 2,000 Civilian Joint Task Force members were trained on conflict resolution including mediation, dialogue and peacebuilding, human rights, and protection of sexual and gender-based violence; over 38,000 people received mine-risk education; 26 episodes of radio drama serial to prevent violent extremism/de-radicalization, and promote reconciliation in the Lake Chad Basin were produced and broadcast to reach more than 5 million people, and 19 local courts in 3 states were furnished and made functional to accelerate citizens’ access to justice.

Supporting national and local authorities achieve sustainable community based re/integration

In Zambia, the Promoting Human Security Through Sustainable Resettlement Programme has been the primary vehicle for shifting from a humanitarian to a long-term development approach to enable the UN in Zambia to support the local integration of former refugees and Zambians. UNDP and UN partner agencies work with the Government of Zambia to strengthen resilience of communities, including refugees. The programme is being implemented in two very different resettlement schemes, and brings about social, cultural and economic integration and cohesion for refugees as new permanent residents and surrounding host communities. The estimated number of beneficiaries (former Angolan and Rwandan Refugees and Zambian Nationals) is 46,000 (8,000-10,000 households). Through the programme, refugees receive permanent residency in Zambia, allowing allocation of land, greater freedom of movement and the opportunity to engage in earning opportunities alongside the host communities.



Ladies and Gentlemen,

Egypt is a also destination country for refugees and asylum-seekers. It is estimated that Egypt hosts up to 5 million refugees and migrants including 224,000 registered Syrian refugees.

We work with UNHCR on the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) in response to the Syria crisis in Egypt to mainstream resilience interventions across the different sectors, including skills development, entrepreneurship and improved access to wage employment with the full participation and engagement of women.

In 2017 the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency and UNDP Egypt implemented a public works (cash-for-work) in five host communities of Syrian refugees  in Alexandria, Menoufia and Sharkia, as a social protection mechanism while also improving services for both refugees and host communities. The programme aimed to enhance the resilience of targeted refugee and host communities. It created short-term jobs for 664 poor young men and women (106,205 workdays) in the fields of health awareness, environmental awareness and waste management. It helped strengthen the skills of beneficiaries which improves their future employment prospects; boosts local economic development in target areas; while improving health and environmental services. More than 12,000 families of Syrian refugees and host communities benefitted from waste management, environmental awareness and health awareness activities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To conclude, I would like to thank the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CCCPA and UNHCR for organizing and hosting this important event and all the participants and partners for their commitment and contributions.

The African Union announced 2019 as the Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced People, which is timely.

The Aswan Forum for Peace and Development will provide a high-level multi-stakeholder platform for regional and international actors to take stock of current opportunities and challenges to peace, security and development in Africa; and develop context specific and action-oriented recommendations to advance the implementation of “sustainable development” and “sustaining peace” agendas in Africa.

As UNDP, we look forward to a continued and fruitful partnership with all of you as well as successful implementation of the Aswan Forum.

Thank you.

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