Migration and Mobility in Africa

Migration on the African continent over 2019 continued to be driven by various push and pull factors that are likely to continue in 2020. In west and central Africa, political instability and conflict remained a key driver for human migration. This was particularly the case in Cameroon where an escalating separatist insurgency in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest Regions has displaced more than 500,000 people, placing the conflict on top of the list of the world’s most neglected displacement crises.

Forced migration of communities within and outside national borders will also continue to define the socio-political situation in Burkina Faso, where the specter of extremist groups looms ever larger over the Sahelian state. Both Cameroon and Burkina Faso are unlikely to become unburdened by the threat of conflict in 2020, which could see insecurity — and forced migration — increasingly impact these countries’ immediate neighbours.

2019 also saw population movements that were related to peace initiatives, perhaps best exemplified in Tanzania where about 600 refugees from Burundi undertook voluntary repatriation. However, there are concerns that Burundi’s forthcoming 2020 presidential elections could again expose ethno-political cleavages that could influence the forced migration of Burundians once again and adversely impact the fragile diplomatic relations that exist in the region.

Finally, climate change was another key driver of population movement on the continent. Notably, UNICEF cited climate change as being one of the key reasons as to why the total number of displaced children on the African continent reached a record-breaking 13.5 million in 2019.

Podesta, John. 2019. ‘The climate crisis, migration, and refugees’. Brookings. July 25. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-climate-crisis-migration-and-refugees/
Norwegian Refugee Council. 2019. The world’s most neglected displacement crises”. Reliefweb. June 4. reliefweb.int/report/cameroon/worlds-most-neglected-displacement-crises
Francis, Imogen. 2019. ‘Climate change worsening severe hunger in Horn of Africa’. The Globe Post. November 15. theglobepost.com/2019/11/15/climate-change-africa-drought/
Al Jazeera. 2019. ‘Hundreds of Burundian refugees return home from Tanzania’. Al Jazeera. October 3. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/burundi-refugees-leave-tanzania-mass-repatriation-starts-191003151945180.html

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