ADDIS ABABA, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) said it marked World Refugee Day on Wednesday with concern over the unprecedented level of forced displacement, irregular migration and protracted humanitarian crises in Africa.
A total of 6.2 million refugees and asylum seekers in Africa have sought protection outside of their countries, while more than 12 million people are internally displaced, said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, in a statement on Thursday.
In these situations, it is often the most vulnerable such as women, children, the elderly, people with disability and minority groups who face immense risks, noted the chairperson.
The World Refugee Day is marked on June 20 to commemorate the strength of refugees and to remind governments to work together for them.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Tuesday said the number of people forcibly displaced due to wars, violence, and persecution worldwide reached a new high in 2017 to 68.5 million, 2.9 million more than the year before.
According to UNHCR, situations in two African countries, the crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan's war are among the major factors that led to the reported displacement.
Under the theme "The World We Want: Inclusion, Empowerment and Access to Services for Refugees," this year's World Refugee Day highlights the importance of inclusion of refugees and solutions to their plight through empowerment and access.
The chairperson of the AU Commission reaffirmed the AU's strong commitment to the protection of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable migrants in all circumstances.
Many African countries have demonstrated remarkably high level of solidarity providing asylum to refugees at a time of greater anxiety, xenophobia, closure of borders and denial of asylum in many parts of the world, he said.
Reiterating that many refugees in protracted situations have suffered for too long without solution in sight, often located in isolated and neglected camps, the chairperson urged a concerted global effort and solidarity to refugees and countries in Africa that host them.
The chairperson noted that the AU Policy Organs have declared 2019 as the African Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.
He said that 2019 would mark the 60 th anniversary of the 1969 OAU Convention, presenting the continent with immense opportunities to chart a better future for forcibly displaced persons.