Update on the operations of UNHCR in West and Central Africa – Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme, Seventy-third session, 10-14 October 2022
The operational environment in the West and Central Africa region was marked by persisting instability and armed conflict, but also significant opportunities and advancements towards protection and solutions. Most important among these were: key legislative changes; the successful implementation of the Comprehensive Solutions Strategy for Ivorian refugees, and the cessation of their refugee status; facilitated access to naturalization for several protracted refugee groups; and commitments expressed in the Yaoundé Declaration on Solutions in the Context of Forced Displacement related to the Central African Republic Crisis, which was adopted in April 2022.
By end of June 2022, the number of persons of concern to UNHCR in the region had reached 12,7 million, over 1 million more than the previous year. The majority (7.2 million) were internally displaced persons. In Burkina Faso, according to the latest available government figures (as of 30th April), the number of internally displaced persons rose by 14 per cent, reaching 1.5 million.
The region hosted 1.6 million refugees and an equivalent number of stateless persons or persons at risk of becoming stateless. Over 87 per cent of refugees in the region were hosted in Chad, Cameroon and Niger, while 77 per cent originated from the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sudan.
Unresolved crises continued to push more people from their homes. A steady influx from the Darfur region of Sudan saw the arrival of some 11,600 new Sudanese refugees into eastern Chad, which was already hosting some 385,000 Sudanese refugees. The impact of the crisis in the central Sahel was felt in the coastal countries, which received some 5,500 asylum- seekers from Burkina Faso as of end of June. As a result, emergency preparedness and response measures were strengthened in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo. Overall, the number of refugees in the region increased by 125,000. Of these, some 56,000 went to Chad, while Cameroon and Niger received 40,000 new refugees respectively.
Unmet needs, protracted displacement and limited opportunities for solutions continued to push small numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons into onward movements towards coastal countries, North Africa and Europe. In Chad, food insecurity fuelled movements to Libya and Niger, as more people sought alternatives to limited livelihood prospects in the refugee camps.
The impact of climate change and the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine were also felt by refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities. In June 2022, the Government of Chad declared a national food and nutrition emergency as a consequence of its worst lean season (the period between harvests that lasts from May to August) in a decade. This was also exacerbated by the sharp rise in food and fuel prices linked to the Ukraine crisis. In the Central African Republic, fuel shortages began to impinge on the ability of humanitarian actors, including UNHCR and its partners, to reach some areas affected by displacement.
Source: International Council of Voluntary Agencies