Forced Displacement in Africa: “Anchors not Walls” Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Beyond borders: UK support for refugees in Africa

1.The recommendations in our Report cannot be achieved without plugging the gaps in funding to support those forcibly displaced. The additional finance provided by the World Bank through IDA18 may help in the short term. However, we question whether the provision of loans to countries only recently relieved of crippling debts to finance an enormous responsibility, on behalf of the international community, reflects the solidarity and responsibility-sharing at the heart of the Global Compact for Refugees (Refugee Compact). At a time when there is again increased concern about rising debt in Africa, asking governments to take on more loans seems counterintuitive. (Paragraph 21)

2.The UK Government should use its influence and example to encourage other donors to increase their contributions to refugee crises in Africa, particularly those, such as Burundi, that are frequently overlooked. (Paragraph 22)

3.The longstanding approach of campaigning for funding for each individual displacement crisis needs to be reformed in line with commitments made as part of the Refugee Compact. The UK should push for the development of international funding mechanisms and instruments which negate the need for a “begging bowl” approach and recognise that countries hosting refugees are providing a global public good. Any new mechanisms should not be predicated on requiring low and lower-middle income refugee-hosting countries to take on yet more debt. (Paragraph 23)

4.The UK Government must urgently tackle its inability to determine, or even robustly estimate, how much funding it is providing to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in African countries, and across the world. It must work with partners, in particular the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to encourage greater transparency in this area and develop a reporting system that enables Parliamentarians and Ministers to identify and examine how much the UK is spending in support of refugees, how much in support of IDPs, and in which countries. (Paragraph 24)

5.The Department for International Development (DFID) remains a leader in supporting refugee education around the world and we welcome its commitment to prioritise the education of children caught up in crisis in its refreshed 2018 global education policy. DFID’s advocacy on refugee education during the negotiation of the Refugee Compact has also been celebrated by civil society organisations. The UK must now ensure that the rest of the international community is held to account on the commitments made within the Compact, including host countries taking steps to integrate refugee children into national education systems. (Paragraph 28)

6.In line with the commitments made in the Refugee Compact, DFID should work with host governments and communities to facilitate the integration of refugees into national education systems and provide appropriate financial and technical support, encouraging other donors to do the same. Where governments have already made commitments, such as through the Djibouti Declaration on Refugee Education, DFID’s education programmes should be aligned with this approach. (Paragraph 29)

7.For DFID to maintain its role as a global leader on education in emergencies, it must continue to prioritise the education of children caught up in crisis—as outlined in its 2018 global education policy, “Get Children Learning”. We recommend the Department makes an early, and significantly higher, financial commitment to Education Cannot Wait when the fund is open for replenishment later this year. (Paragraph 30)

8.The right to work and the right to movement are essential if refugees are to be more self-reliant. They also give people who have suffered immensely the dignity and independence they deserve. However, for obvious reasons, granting these rights can create tensions in host countries where livelihoods are scarce and incomes are low. If we want countries like Uganda and Ethiopia to continue with these progressive, and often unpopular, policies we must equip them with the necessary resources and support. (Paragraph 37)

9.We welcome DFID’s role in bringing schemes such as the Ethiopia Jobs Compact to fruition and its support of broader policy and legislative changes, which should make it easier for refugees to work in host countries. However, ensuring that these laws and policies are implemented fully and effectively will be critical to their success. In Uganda, refugee rights look strong on paper, but many still find they are unable to work and move freely in practice. (Paragraph 38)

10.DFID should continue to support host countries to provide refugees with the right to work. Although schemes, such as the Ethiopia Jobs Compact, must be considered carefully to avoid any unintended consequences, they are a step in the right direction in providing refugees with livelihood opportunities and aiding integration with host communities. (Paragraph 39)

11.The UK Government needs to lead by example. DFID cannot continue to ask the poorest countries in the world to grant refugees the right to work whilst the UK Government significantly limits asylum seekers’ right to work in the UK. The Government must urgently reassess this policy. Nothing would carry more weight with partner governments in Africa than the UK Government practising what it has preached. This is something the Home Affairs Committee has addressed recently and we will be encouraging them to look at in more detail. (Paragraph 40)

12.We welcome DFID and International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) research into ‘What Works’, which is providing a strong body of evidence to prevent gender-based violence and support survivors in refugee camps. The collection of such evidence is vital if national governments, and donors like DFID, are to protect and empower vulnerable women and girls forced to flee their homes. (Paragraph 46)

13.Local women leaders and women’s organisations should be at the forefront of responses to forced displacement in Africa. We believe that this would have a positive impact on the protection of displaced women. Research is needed to safeguard against any unintended consequences, but this seems like a positive course of action in terms of outcomes for vulnerable refugees. (Paragraph 47)

14.DFID and its partners should consider putting local women at the forefront of responses to forced displacement, to enhance protection for women and girls and provide them with a role that would give them more power in camps or informal settlements. (Paragraph 48)

15.DFID should prioritise enabling self-reliance amongst displaced women, including supporting them into work. Having a source of income and position in the community can reduce the risk of vulnerable women suffering exploitation and abuse. (Paragraph 49)

16.The UK Government should ensure the establishment of high safeguarding standards, and effective mechanisms on the ground, by all organisations it supports, throughout the contractual chain, using the leverage of DFID’s example, expertise and provision of funding where necessary. (Paragraph 50)

17.Displaced children face a myriad of horrifying threats on their journey to safety. Child protection must be central to any refugee response programme carried out by DFID and its partners. In its response to our Report, we ask DFID to lay out its approach to child protection in refugee situations. (Paragraph 52)

18.We are concerned that the system for voluntary returns of refugees remains flawed. In particular, it is clear that the repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya is being driven by politics, rather than a genuine change in circumstances which means it is safe for refugees to return home. This puts already vulnerable refugees at even greater risk as they lose their protected status and often struggle to reintegrate in an environment where conflict and food insecurity remain endemic. Returnees risk becoming displaced once again and being unable to re-register as refugees. (Paragraph 61)

19.DFID works closely with UNHCR and the Kenyan Government, providing millions of pounds of UK Aid in support of their efforts. It should use its considerable influence to ensure that proper process is being followed with regards to voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya. The push factors—including the deteriorating conditions in the Dadaab camps—must be addressed, and comprehensive, up-to-date information on conflict and food security in the country must be given to those contemplating a return to Somalia. (Paragraph 62)

20.DFID should continue to press UNHCR to improve its systems for voluntary returns, to ensure that those considering repatriation have access to comprehensive information about the situation they will return to and sufficient support for reintegration. (Paragraph 63)

21.DFID, alongside other international donors, should support host governments to find pathways to integration for refugees whose prospects of returning home are limited or non-existent. This will require financial and technical support from the international community; these countries must not be left to bear the burden alone. (Paragraph 68)

22.The UK Government must also look at the example it is setting through its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. It cannot encourage host governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to integrate refugees without showing some willingness to do the same. (Paragraph 69)

23.We were impressed by the Kalobeyei settlement model and its potential to improve the lives of refugees and host communities by enabling greater self-reliance and independence and stronger social cohesion between refugees and their hosts. We will continue to monitor its progress and its potential to be replicated in other, similar, environments. (Paragraph 73)

24.Amid the global refugee crisis, the UK has shown leadership in supporting refugees overseas. The Government does not have to choose between supporting refugees in the region in which they are displaced and providing resettlement opportunities in the UK; it can, and should, do both. An effective response, in line with Refugee Compact commitments, should include an increase in the resettlement of vulnerable refugees as well as the provision of resources for hosting countries. (Paragraph 79)

25.Providing resettlement opportunities is a crucial part of the responsibility-sharing principle which lies at the heart of the Refugee Compact. The UK currently resettles a tiny fraction of those displaced in Sub-Saharan Africa, including those now residing in fellow Commonwealth nations such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. (Paragraph 80)

26.Increasing resettlement opportunities will show those countries hosting the lion’s share of refugees, that the UK is willing to shoulder some of that burden and provide people with alternative opportunities to rebuild their lives in the UK. The progress the UK Government has made with the Syrian Vulnerable Persons, and Vulnerable Childrens, Resettlement Schemes (VPRS and VCRS) shows its capacity to scale up quickly and we feel that the severity and urgency of the refugee crisis in Africa merits a similar response. (Paragraph 81)

27.We support the call for the UK Government to increase its resettlement numbers to 10,000 places annually—as advocated by UNHCR—in a new, consolidated resettlement scheme. Any such scheme should reserve at least a quarter of places for refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa, in line with the percentage of the global refugee population residing in the region. (Paragraph 82)

28.UNHCR is doing an extraordinary job under incredibly difficult circumstances. As the sole international agency mandated to protect 68.5 million refugees around the world, the task ahead of it is staggering, particularly given the challenges posed by the political environment and negative public perceptions of migrants and refugees. Its work remains urgent and essential and its efforts to protect and support some of the most vulnerable people in the world should continue to be supported by the UK. (Paragraph 87)

29.We cannot, and would not, ignore the cases of corruption, mismanagement, or other harmful conduct, that have come to light during this inquiry or our previous inquiry into ‘Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Aid Sector’. We have also paid due attention to questions of UNHCR’s continued relevance and ability to perform its function. We are pleased that the cases mentioned have been dealt with quickly and that DFID acted swiftly and decisively to restore funding once resolutions were reported. UNHCR must ensure that where cases emerge, it acts urgently to put safeguards in place and prevent disruption to its life-saving operations. DFID, in turn, should react swiftly and proportionately to protect UK Aid, whilst limiting the impact on vulnerable refugees. (Paragraph 88)

30.Questions around the reform of UNHCR remain and DFID should continue to drive institutional reform, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations. UNHCR has set an ambitious agenda in the Refugee Compact and its viability for the future will perhaps be borne out by the success or shortcomings of that agenda. (Paragraph 89)

31.DFID should push for robust accountability processes at the international level, including the development of indicators to track progress, in order to ensure continued commitment to, and tangible results from, the Refugee Compact. (Paragraph 91)

32.The progress of the UK Government on the commitments made in the Refugee Compact should also be monitored and, as a Committee, we intend to play our part. We therefore ask the Government to report to us annually, starting in March 2020, on how the UK is contributing to the Refugee Compact’s objectives. (Paragraph 92)

Nowhere to go: the UK’s response to internal displacement in Africa

33.It has been impossible to critically assess the support DFID is providing to IDPs in Sub-Saharan Africa without knowing how much funding it is providing, although we know that work to support them is ongoing through its humanitarian and development programming. (Paragraph 99)

34.What is clear is that 13 million vulnerable IDPs in Africa are being failed, by their governments and by the international community. DFID must place greater emphasis on targeting and supporting IDPs through its humanitarian and development programmes, working, where appropriate, in partnership with governments to do so. (Paragraph 100)

35.DFID must also make greater efforts to define this stream of work and to establish exactly who they are providing support to and where. This is essential if DFID wishes to ensure IDPs are not “left behind” as the world strives to achieve the SDGs. (Paragraph 101)

36.IDPs lack the international legal protections afforded to refugees. However, the Kampala Convention means that—at least in signatory countries in Africa—IDPs’ rights should be better protected. However, there are challenges with implementation, and political will, which must be overcome. (Paragraph 103)

37.DFID should support partner governments in Africa to fully implement the word and spirit of the Kampala Convention, and encourage those countries that have not yet signed up to do so. (Paragraph 104)

38.DFID’s approach to forced displacement must look at the whole cycle of displacement, from tackling root causes to providing long-term, durable solutions for refugees and IDPs. (Paragraph 106)

39.We welcome the call for high-level international action to: address the plight of IDPs, raise awareness; galvanise funding, and encourage global action by states, aid agencies, civil society and citizens. We believe the call is both timely and necessary. (Paragraph 110)

40.We therefore add our voice to the call for global action on internal displacement, including the establishment of a UN High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, to encourage attention at the highest levels of Government. We recommend that DFID continue to support—and push for—the panel to be launched this year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Kampala Convention. (Paragraph 111)

Grand Bargain promises

41.There is compelling evidence that local and community-based organisations, particularly those led by women, should be central to refugee responses in Africa. However, these organisations still struggle to gain access to DFID funding, due to the complex procurement and reporting procedures involved. Localisation was a key pillar of the Grand Bargain commitments made in 2016 and we are concerned that the Minister has been unable to report to us the proportion of humanitarian spending directed through local organisations. (Paragraph 117)

42.DFID needs to find ways to effectively support local and community-based organisations, including those led by women, who are vital partners in forced displacement crises in Africa. It must also find an effective way of tracking the proportion of humanitarian funding that is directed to national and local responders, in line with the Grand Bargain commitments. (Paragraph 118)

43.Following last year’s DFID Supplier Review, DFID should provide an update—alongside its response to this Report—on its progress in diversifying its supplier base in humanitarian situations, including forced displacement crises. (Paragraph 119)

44.We welcome DFID’s continued commitment to cash-based programming in humanitarian situations. We have seen the effectiveness of such programming on the ground in refugee situations in East Africa. (Paragraph 122)

45.DFID should continue to pioneer and support cash-based programming in forced displacement crises, scaling up provision where it is appropriate, and feasible, to do so. (Paragraph 123)

46.Multi-year financing from donors is essential to enable predictable, sustainable responses to protracted crises. Short-term funding can limit the scope and ambition of programmes targeting displaced populations and increase bureaucracy for implementing organisations, who have to readjust their programmes each year in line with funding. (Paragraph 126)

47.DFID should push its major partners, such as UNHCR, to provide multi-year funding to smaller organisations on the ground. It should also encourage other major aid donors to provide sustainable, predictable multi-year funding for humanitarian emergencies, including refugee crises. Reform in this area is taking too long and must be addressed as a matter of urgency. (Paragraph 127)

48.DFID should ensure that, where it is responding to displacement crises, its humanitarian and development work is joined up. It should also ensure that is the case amongst their partners. DFID has a good reputation amongst donors and aid agencies and its country offices can play a key convening role, bringing together organisations working in countries where a joined-up development and humanitarian response to displacement is essential. (Paragraph 131)

The bigger picture: ensuring a joined-up approach across Government

49.The UK Aid Strategy and the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review were both published at the height of the European refugee crisis—2015—the same year that the EU Trust Fund for Africa was established. The context clearly influenced the direction of those strategies and the fund at that time. (Paragraph 134)

50.Whilst it is understandable that the UK wishes to control the numbers of economic migrants travelling to Europe; there is a risk that this objective is clouding the primary aim of the UK’s aid work in this area, which should be to protect vulnerable people on the move, including refugees. (Paragraph 135)

51.Where there is mixed migration with refugees and migrants using the same routes, as is the case on the central Mediterranean route from Africa, the environment is incredibly complex and the UK’s work in this region is not aided by competing priorities and unclear objectives at the top of Government. (Paragraph 136)

52.Programmes funded by UK aid should be driven by the primary objective of protecting people on the move, including the most vulnerable refugees, and not by the desire to control migration to Europe. This must be reflected in all the UK’s work in this area, including through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, where the UK should use its position to push for progressive programmes, which prioritise protecting and supporting the most vulnerable. (Paragraph 137)

53.DFID should continue to invest in creating a body of evidence to underpin its work on addressing the root causes of forced displacement. This should be separate, but linked to, work establishing the root causes of economic migration as there will be commonalities, but also key differences. Programmes in this area must be based on solid, context-specific evidence to avoid unintended consequences. (Paragraph 140)

54.We remain deeply concerned about the UK Government’s engagement in Libya and Sudan. In its response, we ask that the Government supplies us with the full details of its migration and displacement-related spending in both Libya and Sudan, including all Official Development Assistance (ODA) spend. The Government must also outline precisely what it is doing to safeguard against breaches of the ‘do no harm’ principle in both countries, uphold human rights and protect migrants and refugees at risk. (Paragraph 144)

55.There is a real risk that policies pursued by some parts of the UK Government could come into conflict with the work of others. The UK Government’s desire to address migration to Europe, particularly through the Khartoum Process and engagement in Libya, is clearly undermining its commitment to human rights and protecting the most vulnerable refugees. The Government’s approach towards refugees coming to the UK could also be undermining its work supporting refugees in the poorest countries, by setting a poor example for others to follow. It is clear that the Government needs to take a comprehensive look at its policies on migration and forced displacement, in order to address these inconsistencies and formulate a coherent cross-Government approach. (Paragraph 147)

56.The UK Government should create a national strategy on migration and forced displacement to:

Published: 5 March 2019