On Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 December 2020, on the eve of the first anniversary of the Global Refugee Forum, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) co-hosted a regional online event to take stock of progresses made and actions needed to operationalize the pledges made at the GRF and the High-Level Segment (HLS) on Statelessness.
The meeting was an opportunity to review results, progress and challenges, and review the impact of pledges and initiatives to inform the direction for the next refugee forum, and one year after the halfway point of the global campaign to end statelessness by 2024.
UNHCR, ECOWAS and CEMAC, together with representatives from Member States, civil societies, NGOs, humanitarian actors renewed their pledges and engagement to translate these pledges into concrete actions building solidarity with the world’s refugees and the countries and communities that host them, and to end statelessness by 2024.
One year after the GRF, the context in which these pledges were made has changed dramatically, with the number of people forced to flee increasing further, both globally and in our region, while the COVID-19 pandemic severely tested international standards of refugee protection.
Among the 1,400 pledges made during the Global Refugee Forum, 55 pledges were for West and Central Africa by states and regional partners, with 34 of them in progress and 3 already completed. A further 77 pledges were made by entities from the region during last year’s High-Level Segment on Statelessness, out of the 360 pledges on statelessness submitted globally.
Participants highlighted the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of their pledges. The pandemic not only aggravated issues that were already strained – access to education or livelihoods, resettlement targets, vulnerabilities of people forced to flee – but also prevented the implementation of planned activities or diverted financial resources.
With electoral processes taking place in several countries in the West and Central Africa this year, this affected implementation plans, especially for activities requiring the involvement of high-level officials and national institutions in those countries.
Despite the challenges, participants shared several remarkable progresses towards ending stateliness by 2024. They highlighted the adoption by Côte d’Ivoire of Africa’s first Statelessness Determination Procedure, which will help protect thousands of people in the country who are without a nationality, the adoption in Chad of a new and progressive legislation on civil status registration, the publication in Mali of the results of a study on statelessness, while commendable progress was noted in the adoption a National Action Plans to End Statelessness by Cameroon and Central African Republic.
Participants also shared progresses towards pledges for the protection of population forced to flee, such as the efforts, led by ECOWAS, to promote the domestication and
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees