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The IGAD Regional Secretariat on Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration

The Regional Secretariat on Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration (RSFDMM) established within the Health and Social Development Division at IGAD Secretariat will support the DRDIP regional operation through promoting policy dialogue on the development approach to displacement, which is a new way of looking at and responding to displacement in the Horn of Africa. It aims at promoting a paradigm shift for IGAD member states and other partners working on displacement through generation of evidence that supports and gives reason to innovative development approaches. The RS uses knowledge and insights generated from the implementation of DRDIP to showcase good practices emanating from integrated service delivery in refugee hosting areas and benefits of economic inclusion and sustainably managing the environment.

Its location within IGAD Secretariat, which is a Regional Economic Community (REC), allows it to play an advocacy role based on evidence from research and DRDIP implementation that will drive policy change while responding to ongoing global discussions and commitments made by IGAD member states for refugees and host communities. For solutions that support local integration to be successful, the normative framework that hinders it including restrictions on movement and total encampment, among others, would need to be revised. Some countries are already on course on this including Djibouti that adopted a law that opens up employment to refugees as well as the new law in Ethiopia that eased movement for refugees and allows them to work with an expansion of the “Out of Camp Policy (OCP)”, maintains open-door policy and cultivates for social-economic integration for refugees. The RS provides a platform through which these new developments are discussed, analysed and policy options that support refugees and host communities are provided.

IGAD as a political convener in the Horn of Africa will use its leverage to engage with development, humanitarian and private sector actors in the region towards stepping away from looking at displacement as a purely humanitarian issue that also leaves out the host communities. The Nairobi Action Plan adopted by the IGAD Summit of March 2017 calls on the private sector to invest in refugee hosting areas and for financial inclusion through support to small and medium enterprises for refugees and host communities. This would be a game changer for communities that have relied on humanitarian support for so long and it would leave them empowered and with a sense of dignity.

To create a regional appreciation of how the development approach to displacement works, the RSFDMM engages with institutions of higher learning, research institutions and think tanks to carry out research on various aspects on displacement that supports policy options being discussed at the national and regional level. This also creates an entry point for the said institutions to continue working with governments in the region and to inform decision making in addressing displacement and migration through continuous research. The RSFDMM engages with other initiatives such as the Great Lakes Initiative that is premised on the same DRDIP objectives to exchange region-wide good practices – something only a regional entity would be able to do.

Addressing displacement comprehensively requires an understanding of regional realities that drive it and initiatives being carried out at the regional level. The RS will act as a natural bridge with other ongoing regional initiatives relevant to discussions on addressing displacement for instance the IGAD Drought Disaster and Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) implemented in mainly Arid and Semi-Arid Areas (ASALs) which are often the areas where refugees are hosted, the IGAD Peace and Security Strategy, the Regional Pastoral Livelihoods and Resilience Project etc.

IGAD Regional Secretariat on Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration