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By Aysha Azam
Think Africa Press speaks with Regional Director of Refugees International, Andrea Lari.
Refugees International are advocates for the protection of displaced people and promote solutions to displacement crises. Founded in 1979 as a citizens' movement to protect Indochinese refugees, it has since had a tremendous impact around the globe and was instrumental in demanding and delivering aid for displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
What work does Refugees International do in Africa?
Refugees International sheds light on the needs of people that are forced to flee their homes, their needs of protection and assistance, and we succeed in providing solutions to policy makers in helping those people. We are an independent institution, we do not receive money from the government and this brings the benefit of being seen as an impartial organisation.
How do gaps in the international protection of refugees call for the involvement of non-governmental organisations?
The reality is that the majority of refugees do not live in camps, the structures set up by the international community, or with the authorisation of governments, they live in urban settings. There are, for example, hundreds of thousands of Somalians living in Nairobi and vast numbers living in other countries such as Djibouti and Yemen. Lots of asylum seekers travel south, down the continent, and arrive in South Africa. In the whole continent, there are around 400,000 people asking for asylum for individual processing and South Africa deals with more than half of this. The reality is different, governments have to reconsider their way of operating and assisting refugees in urban settlements.
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