African Exodus: Refugee Crisis, Human Rights and the 1969 OAU Convention

In This Review

African Exodus: Refugee Crisis, Human Rights and the 1969 OAU Convention

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1995
266 pp. $15.00

This report on a three-year study of conditions in seven countries presents the most succinct analysis so far of the legal protection of African refugees, as distinct from humanitarian relief or the root causes that generate refugee populations. Political losers in their countries of origin, refugees often suffer new abuses in their countries of asylum, where no domestic constituency exists to defend their rights. Intergovernmental organizations may step in with varying degrees of success; the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees earns mixed reviews here, and the Bureau for Refugees of the Organization of African Unity is dismissed as almost totally ineffectual. The authors offer recommendations to these bodies and urge host country nongovernmental organizations with a human rights focus -- a new phenomenon of the last decade in Africa -- to widen their scope to encompass the protection of rights clearly spelled out in the 1969 OAU Convention on Refugees. Cases from recent years include the voluntary and involuntary repatriation of Mozambicans from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and South Africa; the expulsion of Chadians from Nigeria and of Mauritians and Senegalese from each other's territories; and the plight of Liberians in the Ivory Coast and Somalis in Kenya. A postscript considers the ongoing Rwandan refugee crisis, and texts of relevant legal conventions are included as useful appendices.

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