As stated by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, “We all want a United Africa, United not only in our concept of what unity connotes, but united in our common desire to move forward together in dealing with all the problems that can best be solved only on a continental basis.”
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 89.3 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced at the end of 2021 as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order; with 83% hosted in low- and middle-income countries. Also, sub-Sahara Africa hosts more than 26 percent (over 18 million) of the world’s refugees. In view of this, the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), has warned that the conflict in Sudan is having a devastating effect on the civilian population, including refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) throughout the country. The agency notes that heavy fighting and insecurity have forced tens of thousands to flee in search of safety to Chad, South Sudan, and Egypt, resulting in sudden refugee and humanitarian crisis as Sudan is currently home to more than 1 million refugees and 3.7 million IDPs.
Sudan Conflict Reinforces Historical Trend of Ineffective Leadership
It is disheartening to see that Africa still lacks the requisite institutional capacity to manage and address the accompanying refugee and humanitarian consequences that these conflicts result in, despite multiple wars and conflicts in different nations across the sub-region and Continent over the years. It is striking to observe that the continent still depends on the UNHCR, and lacks the necessary sub-regional organisations and structures such as, a Continental Central Command Agency, that can efficiently coordinate and serve as the continent’s chief management authority during times of refugee and humanitarian crises.
Over the years, conflicts in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and currently in Sudan have highlighted the lack of leadership, effective coordination, and planning in the areas of crisis prevention and management by the Continent’s Heads of States and Governments; as well as the Africa Union, as witnessed in multiple devastations, setbacks and underdevelopment in many parts of the Continent.
Intelligence Gathering and Foresight Needed to Prevent Conflicts in Africa
Further highlighting the critical need for security-related information gathering and sharing on the Continent is the ongoing emergence and engagement in hostilities and wars in the sub-region and on the continent, as well as their sudden character. Simply put or in other words, where are the organisations and agencies responsible for intelligence gathering on the African continent? Where are the Regional Security Councils (RSCs) that are supposed to be responsible for regional and sub-regional security, intelligence collection, refugee and humanitarian supervision, as well as safety of goods and services as a result of participation in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), among others?
The apparent unavailability and non-existence of such institutions in all fields, including education, health, and telecommunications, among others, affect Africa’s ability to undertake monitoring, assessment and effective measures to address key issues/concern in real-time. In turn, this leads to the related refugee and humanitarian crises and widespread devastation across the Continent today. As evidenced by the recent Ebola crisis and coronavirus pandemic, the lack of sub-regional or regional Continental Health Institutions meant we were again reliant on western health systems and recommendations from their Health Institutions. Indeed, the absence of such Institutions often leads to sufferings, pain, agony, and worsened hardships for the people of Africa.
In conclusion, as noted by former US President, Barack Obama, during his visit to Ghana and Africa, “Africa does not need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.” As such, the time is ripe for Africa to invest in development institutions in order to address the critical challenges that confront the Continent.
The development and empowerment of such sub-regional and regional Institutions will help Africa conform to international treaties such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR), Convention on Rights of the Child, Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability, and Convention against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, among others. As noted by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, “It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.”