Culture, News

Forced Migration – The Psychological Burden of Displacement

Nmesoma Okwudili


April 1, 2023

Over the years, Africa has seen an increase in the number of refugee camps. The numerous crises and disasters primarily experienced in the sub-Saharan region, more notably in southern and western Africa, are to blame for this depressing reality.

Unexpected events like ongoing war, natural catastrophes, conflict, authoritarian regimes, and civil upheaval have consistently fueled the need for immigration of people from their homeland in disparate search for shelter and protection.

These difficulties that African refugees and internally displaced people encounter are complicated and multifaceted. Inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife, as well as communal land disputes, are major contributors to internal displacement in Africa. These conflicts are frequently exacerbated by natural calamities like flooding, soil erosion, and droughts.

When internal tensions increased, more and more people became internally displaced. By 1995, there were more than 20 million, up from 1.2 million in 11 nations in 1982.

These people must deal with aggravating painful concerns, such as lack of access to basics and a lack of educational and economic possibilities, in addition to the discomfort brought on by such trauma.

However, discrimination and xenophobia directed at refugees and other displaced people can make matters worse for them by making it more challenging for them to get access to basic services, obtain jobs, and integrate into their new communities. These displaced people face persistent social and economic exclusion as well as political marginalisation on top of their already challenging circumstances, which can result in further migration.
In essence, the challenges and accidents are made worse by the weak ability of African governments to control and defuse these situations. This has now been attributed to the lack of institutional capacity, infrastructure, and resources, which makes it challenging for governments to offer refugees and internally displaced people the support and assistance they need.

Because other regions’ crises take precedence, the international community frequently leaves African refugees and internally displaced people in a vulnerable position without access to sufficient resources and help. African displacement crises consistently receive less global attention and funding than crises in other regions, which has contributed to their ongoing problems.

To meet their basic requirements, refugees and internally displaced people typically rely on aid from humanitarian organisations and host communities. Yet, the relief is frequently minimal and inadequate, leaving many refugees and displaced people in appalling living situations. For instance, the majority of refugees in Uganda, home to over 1.4 million refugees, live in congested camps with no access to food, clean water, or medical treatment.
Limited access to educational options and work prospects is another problem that African refugees and displaced people must deal with. Most often, those who have been displaced or are refugees are not permitted to work or go to school, which prevents them from having the opportunity to better their life and support the community’s economy. For instance, refugees are not permitted to work or participate in income-generating activities in Kenya, which reduces their chances of becoming self-sufficient. Similar to this, prejudice against displaced people in Nigeria’s labour market makes it challenging for them to find job.

Recruiting and other abusive practises. Women and children are especially at risk from this violence, which frequently goes unreported and unpunished. For instance, accusations of sexual abuse and exploitation of refugee children and women in camps in Ghana have brought attention to the need for enhanced safety measures.
Refugees and displaced people from Africa have difficulty getting justice and legal protection. They frequently lack access to legal representation and are uninformed of their legal rights. Moreover, it is challenging for refugees and those who have been forcibly displaced to receive justice because host countries’ judicial systems are frequently overburdened and underfunded. For instance, refugees have been arbitrarily detained and arrested in Uganda, violating their right to due process.

As a result, significant problems beset African refugees and internally displaced people. Governments, humanitarian organisations, and the international community must work together to address these issues.

Access to essentials, opportunity for education and work, defence against violence and discrimination, and access to justice and legal protection are all critical components of critical interventions. African refugees and internally displaced people can have an opportunity to reconstruct their lives and contribute to the growth of their host communities by addressing these issues.


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