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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

East Africa hosts most refugees outside the Middle East

East Africa now hosts over a million refugees from East, Central and Southern Africa, the largest total figure in the world outside of the Middle East. According to the latest Global Trends report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania alone host nearly 610,000 refugees with Kenya the most generous host in the region with nearly 360,000 refugees, mostly from Somalia. Kenya is now the fifth biggest host of refugees worldwide behind only Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Germany but well ahead of the United States on 275,500 and the UK on nearly 270,000. The new report (released on June 15) said that around 43.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2009, the highest number of people uprooted by conflict and persecution since the mid-1990s. At the same time, the number of refugees voluntarily returning to their home countries has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years. The report indicates that overall refugee numbers remained relatively stable at 15.2 million, two thirds of whom come under UNHCR’s mandate while the other third fall under the responsibility of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.  However one piece of good news is that in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of refugees continued to decline for the ninth consecutive year. By the end of 2009, there were less than 2.1 million refugees compared with more than 3.4 million in 2000. The refugee population decreased by 1.5 per cent between the start and end of 2009, primarily due to the naturalisation of 155,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania and successful voluntary repatriation operations to the DR Congo (44,300), Southern Sudan (33,100), Burundi (32,400), and Rwanda (20,600).

Source: The Eastafrican

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