The problem of Refugees in West Africa


By Esther Aristides H. LL.B (Hons) LL.M (Uni .Jos Nigeria) BL. (Bwari, Abuja, Nigeria) lecturer Faculty of Law The Gambia. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The huge exodus of African refugees in the recent period into European countries has become a matter of grave concern. Countries such as Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Holland have absorbed the highest numbers of refugees such that it triggered several political, economic and social problems. Be that as it may, there is also an overbearing majority of displaced people in most of the developing countries in West Africa both internally and as refugees in conflict zone of the region such as in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Somalia, Sudan and The Gambia. The sub-Saharan region of Africa hosts the highest number of Refugees for quite some time now. It has been estimated that about 40 percent of the whole world Refugees are Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camped in this region. Most refugees from those conflict countries remain in this region with Nigeria hosting more refugees than any other country in West Africa and Arica entirely as of now. Most of the African who poured into Europe looking for greener pasture as a result of harsh economic environment at home were down looked upon as destitute, criminals and/or traffickers while in fact, most of them were enlightened, educated with moderate socio-economic backgrounds the reasons for their departure can be as a result of lack of employment conflicts between tribal group, war fear of political persecution and fear of outbreak of diseases etc. In Europe they have been subjected to human maltreatment, torture, hard environment for habitation, deny entry and lack of respect to their fundamental human rights accorded to human beings as prescribed international convention on human right and dignity. This policy Brief wants to put things into perspective and suggests a new European approach to dealing with refugees from West Africa.

Keywords: Problems, Refugees, African, Viewpoint.



For over half a century now, the problems of refugees have tasked the ingenuity of world leaders. In the present days, the problems are as great as ever. More worrying is, the violation of the human rights of these refugees. Images of refugees in Nigeria, Niger, and Libya racing against death on the screens of televisions recently were as heartbreaking as they were gory. The human rights of these refugees were violated with impunity. The rights to life, to live in peace, to food, to a neat and healthy environment, to vote and be voted for, among others, meant nothing to these refugees than the conventions ratified by their countries. The problem of refugees is one of the oldest problems in the history of mankind.[1] It remains one of the tragic features of the present century.[2]

 However, the promulgation of 1948 universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations; Article 14 of the Declaration states: “Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”.

The Refugees’ problem touches on civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights of refugees. As a result, the United Nations has the following conventions on nationality, statelessness, Asylum and the refugees: Convention on the Nationality of Married Women 1957- Entry into force 1958, Convention on the reduction of statelessness 1959- Entry into force 1957; Convention relating to the status of statelessness persons, 1954 - Entry into force 1960, Convention relating to the status of refugees 1951 – Entry into force 1954, Protocol relating to the status of refugees status of the Office of The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees,1950, Declaration on territorial Asylum, 1967, Declaration on Human Rights of individuals who are not nationals of the country in which they live.

The United Nations organized a conference on population and Development from 5th- 13th September 1994 and it declared in its final draft that: ‘In less than 10years, from 1985 to 1993, the number of refugees has more than double, from 8.5 million to 19 million.’[3]

In Africa, the Organization of Africa Unity adopted in 1969 the convention on the status of refugees. In The Gambia, 2008 government created the commission for refugees.[4]

Refugee’s problem is not only an international problem but a local or domestic concern. The deplorable situation of refugees throughout the world, especially in cases of large-scale movement of refugees, remains an unsolved problem.[5]

In This work, attempts will be made to discuss the problems of refugee. The task, albeit difficult would be embarked upon. The primary causes of refugees’ problem also will be given prominent attention in this work. The regime of Asylum, expulsion of refugees, treatment of refugees and withdrawal of refugee’s status all will come up for discussion in this article. I will similarly delve into the administrative mechanisms of the protection of refugees under the National Commission for Refugees Act No 15 2008.

Finally, I intend to briefly look at the role of the UN in solving refugees’ problems and making certain observations and recommendations for implementation in the light of the United Nations International conference in Population and Development hold in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.


The Refugee Problem

At the end of the First and Second World Wars, the League of Nations, at the first moment, as well as the United Nations, its successor, was faced with large number of people displaced as a result of the fighting and this gave rise to the coordination of efforts of several agencies that provided help. Many other conflicts ecloded at that period, such as the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, after which, there were lots of Russian Refugees and the League of Nations had a daunting task taking care of them.

After the Second World War, the United Nations created the International Refugee Organization (IRO) and it ended its work in 1952 as the UNCHR replace it. In Africa, in 1967, an International conference was held in Addis-Ababa and Bureau for the placement and Education of African Refugees (BPEAR) was established which was charge with the resettlement of African Refugees. In 1969 in Addis-Ababa, the final draft of OAU convention dealing with African aspects of the refugee, negotiated since 1968 was adopted by Assembly of Heads of states and Government in its sixth ordinary session.


Who is a Refugee?        

Defining who is a refugee is s difficult task, as the problems faced by the refugees themselves. Osita Eze has argued assiduously that the term refugee was not provided any definition by customary international law.[6] But there are conventions dealing with the issue of refugees from which the definition of a Refugee can be gathered. A starting point would seem to be the convention relating to the status of Refugees, 1950(1954) which defines a refugee as any person who:

As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owning to well-founded fear of being persecute for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or owning to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of protection of that country or, not having a national and being outside the country of his former  habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owning to fear, is unwilling to return to it.[7]


The definition provided by the convention under reference is as significant as it is controversial. The definition is to the effect that certain conditions need to be first fulfilled. One of these is that the event which propels or compels one to leave his place of residence must have occurred before the 1st of January 1957. This definition would have made Rwandese Refugees in camps of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo is unqualified to be given refugees status as well as Chechen Refugees in neighbouring Ingushetia.

The abandonment of perpetual or habitual place of residence must be due to well-founded fear of persecution. To be regarded as a refugee also under this convention, the purported refugee must be outside his country of origin. This would have meant that those who flee from civil wars in one part of a country to another even though it has gained international attention would not be regarded as refugees. The said persecution must be on grounds of race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group. This definition excluded and still excludes economic migrants from the definition of refugees. The final requirement seems to be that as a result of persecution; the person seeking the status is not able to avail himself of the protection of the country and therefore cannot return to it. With the greatest respect, the convention is too restrictive. It left several issues unanswered. What happens to victims of events that happened after the 1st of January 1951? What happens to people displaced for good reasons but not outside their country of residence? Would it not have been proper to take into consideration the plight of economic migrant? The fact in West Africa is that people of Africa are always on the move as a result of the persistent drought and famine that continue to plague West African societies[8]. In the light of that the 1951 UN convention defining refugee was insipid, half-hearted and Eurocentric. A welcome move at removing this anomaly was made in 1967 when the protocol relating to the status of Refugees was adopted.[9] Article 1(2) of that Convention states: ‘For the purpose of the present, the term “refugee” shall, except as regards the application of paragraph 3of this Article. Mean any person within the definition of Article 1 of the Convention as if the words ‘As a result of events occurring before 1st January 1951 and …” and the words “as a result of such events.’

It would appear that the two conventions exclude people who have committed heinous crimes against the society. The OAU convention with its special African reality also provided a definition. It states that refugee is:

Every person, who owning to external aggressions, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part of the whole of his country of origin or nationality is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality.[10]

Thus, the OAU convention [11]contains some elements. One of these is that the person must be compelled to leave his place of habitual residence. This requirement glaringly is more flexible than UN convention[12]. The second requirement is that the person be compelled to leave because of external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality. To Osita Eze:

An international refugee, without prejudice to the conventional conception of the term, may be defined in general terms as a person who political, religious or other genuine reasons arising between the state and its citizens or between that state and persons habitually resident there is a force to leave or stay out of his state of Nationality or habitual residence, such reasons making his stay there Impossible or intolerable, and is a person who has taken refuge in another state without having either actual a new nationality or habitual residence in that state.[13]

The fact remains that before the collapse of communism and socialism, governments viewed refugees as pawns in the East-west conflict.[14]It is submitted that even in the post cold era, the age long divisions continue to exist and plague societies encouraging moving. An example of this is the carnage in Angola. In spite of the collapse of the Berlin wall and fall of communism, the wounds-the out of East-West conflict still remain and continue to divide the Angolan society.


Refugee Distinguished from other category or persons

a)     Ordinary Migrant: This is a person who has left his country to take residence in another territory. He may be motivated by economic adjustment, environmental change or other personal adventurous reasons. If his reasons for leaving are economic, he is referred to as an economic migrate.

b)     Fugitive from justice: This is a person who fled his nation in order to escape the wrath of the law. The crime may be of murder genocide, infanticide, causing grievous hunt etc.

c)     Ordinary Alien: Generally, a refugee is an alien but not an ordinary alien. An ordinary alien is a person, a nationality of a state who is a traveller, tourist or visitor. Major expectations from an ordinary alien are the production of necessary travelling documents and approved of same to the receiving state.

d)     Stateless persons: A stateless person is one who is under the operation of a legal system. The convention relating to the status of stateless persons regards a “stateless person” as a person who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law[15]


The Causes of Refugee Problems

Over the years, the causes of refugee problems have become very diverse. Addressing the issue of international migration, the Cairo conference apparently encapsulates the causes of refugee problem when it stated in it draft:

International economic Imbalances, poverty and environmental degration, combined with the absence of peace and security, human rights validation and varying degrees of development of judicial and democratic institutions are all factors affecting international migration.[16]


A lot of authors have written on the causes of the refugee problem. Hofman has identifies four causes.[17]According to him;

Serious and systematic Violations of fundamental Human rights, in particular the persecution of persons on ground of their races, religion, civil wars or events seriously disturbing public in either parts or the whole of the country of origin, external aggression, occupation or foreign elimination in either part or the whole of the country of origin, and finally natural and ecological disasters such as drought and famine, the effects of which are often magnified by inadequate economic policies of the government in place.[18]


Violation of Human Rights

A major cause of refugee problems is gross violations of human rights. This is especially true in Africa. Thus, the rights to life, to dignity, to personal liberty, to a fair hearing, to private and family life etc., as well as the economic, social and economic rights of people later classified as refugees are often times violated in their host countries. Illegal actions by the governments of such countries and retroactive legislations interacting on the rights of subjects are some of the numerous manifestations of these.


Civil war/Tension and Interethnic Rivalries

A fundamental cause of refugee problems is civil war or civil strife in a country. This is most common cause of the refugee problem in the post-cold war era. The root of violent conflicts and civil strife in West Africa is linked to several complex factors. In his article, ‘Conflict and Peace in West Africa’, Cybil Obi identifies that: ‘The roots of conflict in West Africa are much deeper and complex and are embedded in inter-marry of historical factors, socio-economic crisis, legacies of authoritarianism and the politics of exclusion, international forces, and local struggles.’[19]

Admittedly, while the aforementioned constitute the broader causal factor, embedded within and related to them are bad governance and corruption, human rights violations, poverty, ethnic marginalization and small arms and light weapons proliferation among others), which continue to serve as triggers and drivers of violent conflicts in the sub-region. Even though there are several other specific causes of violent conflict and civil strife in West Africa. Other causes of movement of people later known as refugees are domination by a foreign power. National disaster like earthquake, volcanic eruptions and drought may cause people to move and be later given refugee status. But it must be stated that feminism famine and hunger are not regarded as sufficient to earn one refugee status. But the fact remains that, in addition to the political factors, much of the migratory activity in West Africa is based on economic stress. Hoffman glaringly stated the position thus:

This applies in particular to the Allied zone at the beginning of the 1980s when, due to drought and famine, large numbers of herds-men were forced to leave their gracing lands in search for sheer survival. Even though these people receive considerable material support from international relief organizations, they were usually not considered as refugees in the legal sense of the word.[20]

In that aspect, economic migrant and people fleeing from extreme hardship be included in the definition of refugee. Close to half of the number of migrants we have in West African are economic migrants. Examples of economic migrants are Gambian who had become refugees in many European countries such as Germany and Italy and are being deported on regular bases. The Foroyaa educate people capture the effects of the situation thus: ‘An organization called Gambia Refugee Association – Europe Branch has been addressing letters to the parliamentarians and political parties. According to them, if the government fails to act to find a solution to their problems, the deportation of Gambian will intensify in 2019.[21]

As long as underdevelopment stares us in the face, as long as the realizations of economic rights are mere pipe dreams and utopian, we will continue to have people migrating from one country to another.


Wars of National Liberation

Colonialism is an aberration. It is a dictatorship and a veritable violation of a people’s right and their rights to self-determination.[22] Colonialized people fight foreign domination and occupation in virtually all continents of the planet earth. In certain instances, the DE colonialization process was peaceful but in others, a violent overthrow of government may be modus operandi and in such cases a lot of civilians are forced to flee their places of habitual residence in search of abound. The Mozambique’s against Portuguese colonialism and Morocco and the Polisario nationalists, Algeria helped to aid at maintain a war of liberation against Morocco. It must however be stated that the causes of the refugees’ situation are not exhaustive that is the categories are not closed.

But where a person has committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity, as defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provisions in respect of such crimes; or where he has committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to his admission to that country as a refugee; or has been guilty of acts that violating to the status of refugees, he cannot be given refugee status[23].


 The Question of Asylum

Roger Bird, in the Osborn’s Concise ‘Law Dictionary” defines Asylum as: ‘Originally a place in which there was safety from pursuit.’[24]

This is the act of admitting a refugee. Determination of refugee status is normally affected when the person seeking refuge present himself to the relevant authority of the country in question.[25] Article 1 of the Declaration on Territorial Asylum states that: ‘Asylum granted by states, in the exercise of its sovereignty, to persons entitled to invoke Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shall be respected by all other states.’

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecutions.’[26]

The right to grant Asylum, it was held derives from the states’ customary exercise of territorial sovereignty and is the exclusive right of a sovereign state.[27] The 1967 Declaration provides also that (1) the granting of asylum does not constitute an unfriendly act and is to be respected by other states (2) and the situations of persons seeking asylum is of concern to the international community. Apparently, where there is some ethnic bond obtaining asylum does not present problems to a large number of refugees seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Under the convention on status of Refugees, the contradicting state shall not impose penalties on account of their illegal entry on presence on refugees who coming directly from a territorial where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article 1, enter or at present in their territory without authorizations provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry.[28]


Expulsion of a refugee/prohibition of Return (non-refoulement)

Except on grounds of national security and public order, a refugee should not be expelled and a reasonable period should be given to a refugee to seek legal admission into another country.[29] In Nigeria however, the 1990 National Commission for Refugees and same with the Gambian commission for Refugee Act prohibits of such persons to the frontiers of any territory where life, freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, Nationality or political opinion, where such persons pose a danger to the society of Gambia or have been convicted by a court for committing serious crimes.[30] This undertaking not to expel or return a refugee is known as the principles of non-refoulement.

Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1984 has apparently foisted a duty on the states to grant asylum has been vigorously criticized. So, what is the effect of Article on the grant of asylum? It is submitted that the article has been rejected by state parties to the convention as it infracts on the sovereign rights to grant or not to grant asylum.[31] It would appear that states also have the duty not to allow its territory to be used in such a manner as to endanger the securities and safety of other states. The recent clashes with rebels in western Anglophone Cameroon, which region is clamouring for independence of Ambozonia Republic from the rest of Francophone speaking area makes more refugees boasting into Nigeria, Chad and the Cameroon. These account for the expulsion of more refugees in many camps already saturation. This makes asylum seekers vulnerable to attack in view of the security risk that involve in the territories of these states[32].


Treatment of Refugees

The UN Convention of (1951) contains elaborate provisions dealing with the rights accorded to refugees in the territories of state parties to the convention. Under the UN Convention (1951) states parties undertake to apply the provisions of the convention without discrimination.[33] The OAU Convection went a step further by prohibiting also discrimination in the application of the Convention on grounds of membership of a particular social group or political opinion.[34]

Four standards of treatments are established by the UN Convention of 1951. These are national standards treatment, treatment as accorded to nationals of the country of habitual residence, the most favoured nation treatment, and treatment as favourable as possible.

Certain rights are guaranteed under the national standard treatment such as freedom of refugees to practice religion and the religious education of their children, wage earning employment after residence in the country for three years: elementary education, public relief assistance, labour legislation and social security.

Treatment as accorded to national of the country of their habitual residence includes the right to be represented in certain matters by lawyers of his choice and the right to have his intellectual property protected and the right in artistic and scientific works. The most favoured nation treatment covers rights of association in political and non-profit making associations, and trade unions. It includes the right to work and earn wages. The fourth and the final right, under the UN Convention of 1951 deals with the treatment more favourable than that accorded to allies generally in the same circumstances. This covers the right to movable and immovable property self-employment in Agriculture, industry, commerce, housing, handcrafts, and recognition of foreign Diplomat and award of scholarship.[35]

But the realization of these rights for the poverty stricken and shrinking West African economies may be a more hoax, a farce as not even the citizens of West African countries can afford these rights sought to be conveyed by the UN Convention 1951.

The Nigeria Act, S.1 (3) and the Gambia Act 327 prohibit the expulsion or extradition of those who even entered the country illegally pending the determination of his application as refugee while still in the country. Members of their families are also allowed to stay and remain in the country. Writing on the treatment of refugees, Gasiokwu[36] has this to say as regards the Nigerian Act also applicable to Gambia Act: The approach in the view of this writer looks humane in the sense that those industries, considering the circumstances under which they have left their countries may not be faced with an immediate problems of having to seek for another place to take refugee.[37]

According to Eze, the OAU Convention does not contain the specific rights discussed in the UN Convention and therefore the rights of refugees like that of other alien will be governed by the laws and policies of the contracting states.[38] It would also appear that the enforcement of these rights would also depend on the legal system as well as the regime in power of the country of refugee as well as other relevant Human Right Convention.[39]


Administrative Mechanism for the protection of Refugees under The Gambian commission for Refugees Act, 2008

Matters relating to refugees in The Gambia are the responsibility of the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees in The Gambia Immigration Department. The functions of the commission for refugees are enumerated as: the laying down of general guidelines and overall policy in general issues relating to refugees and person seeking asylum in The Gambia, advice the Government on policy matters in relation to refugees in The Gambia; consider issues referred to it from time to time by the commissioner and make recommendations to him.

The commission has a Chairman, Permanent Secretary  of the Ministry of Interior or his or her representatives not below the rank of Deputy Permanent Secretary; the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or his or her representative not below the rank of Deputy Permanent secretary, Director of Immigration, Inspector-General of Police, Commissioner for refugees, representative of The Gambia Red Cross society and one person to represent the civil society and a representation of the UNHCR in the Gambia as observer. The recommendations of the eligibility committee form the bedrock of successful grant of a refugee status to applicant.[40]

There are about three organs concerned with the effective performance of the duties of commission. These three organs are briefly discussed here under.


The Eligibility Committee

The functions of this committee are to process and consider applications for refugee status and recommend such applications, register those who have been granted refugee status under the Act and exercising any other powers or function, as may be given to it from time to time.[41]

The Eligibility committee considers applications forwarded to it from the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees’ office or through The Commissioner or other competent officers. The Committee conducts the interview and sends its decision to the minister or commission.[42]

If the applicant is refused refugee status, he shall be given reasonable time to leave the country.[43] I want to submit that reasonability is a very nebulous and vague term. What time will be considered sufficiently reasonable? Can the Eligibility committee take decisions that are inconsistent with International Conventions? Identity cards are issued to successful applicants and members of their families by the minister. The refugees are equally given residence permits and United Nations Travel Document[44] if they are not given identity cards, they are deported back to their home countries as capture in the Point Newspaper Thursday Jan 2019. 15 Gambians deported from Germany along with 46 Nigerian for non-regularization of their status.[45]


The Commissioner for Refugees

The Commissioner grants refugee status to applicants and has responsibility for the provision of adequate facilities and services for the reception and care of refugees in The Gambia. But the commissioner is under the supervision of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Withdrawal of Status of Refugees

Situations may arise that may determine or terminate the status of a refugee a practical example of that is capture again in The Point Newspaper ‘The Minister of interior, Mr Ebrima Mballow has said that there is no migration agreement between the Spanish government and that of The Gambia regarding the fate of the Gambians residing in that European country’[46]  that will definitely determine withdrawal of their status. Both the UN and OAU Convention will cease to apply to any person who has voluntarily re-availed himself of protection of the country of his nationality, who having lost his nationality has voluntarily reacquired it, who has acquired a new nationality and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality; or has voluntarily re-established himself in the country which he left or remained outside arising to fear of prosecution, or who can no longer because the circumstances have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of his nationality or in the case of a stateless person is able to return to the country of his habitual residence.[47]

But it can be argued too that refugee status may be determined by naturalization, repatriation, migration or assimilation.

Under the Nigeria Act and The Gambia Act + S12 and S24 of the Acts governs this. Its provision is to the effect that if at any time the minister of interior considers that there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person who has been granted asylum should not have been granted, he shall cease to be a refugee. He shall refer that case of the Eligibility Committee for reconsideration. The refugee shall be informed of the reconsideration decision and he is expected to make a written representation to the Eligibility Committee within a period of 14-days. If a negative decisions or recommendation is reached by the committee, the commissioner may withdraw the status of the refugee.[48]

This provision has suffered a lot of opprobrium from refugees and legal analyst. The provision has been attached on several grounds. Inadequacy of written representation, none grant of appeal opportunity against the decision of the commissioner, reasonability or sufficiency of reasonable grounds and the wide and almost absolute powers of Eligibility Committee.[49] I feel however, that this provision is preferred to the provisions of the OAU and UN Conventions in that the provisions are more accommodation and most detailed.


The United Nations High Commission and Refugees

It must be stated from the onset that before the UNHCR, there were other organizations that were assisting refugees, however, no intention to delve into the role of such organizations. In January 1951, the office of the UNHCR was created and its objectives include the promotion of the conduction and ratification of the International Convention for the protection assistance in repatriation of refugees, complementing the efforts of other organization in improving the wellbeing of the refugee, engaging in the repatriation and resettlement of refugees etc.[50]

It must be said that along with a lot of Aid Agencies, e.g. Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, Save the Children etc, and on the international, Interrights, the UNHCR has provided food and assistance and constant monitoring of Human Right abuses across the globe. Their roles in West Africa and Africa in general have been most commendable.



In summary, this work has attempted to define who a refugee is, the causes of their problems, their treatment, legal and administrative mechanisms in this country for their protection, withdrawal of refugee status, the concept of non-refoulement, the regime of asylum and the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees.

It must be noted that the refugees’ rights all over the world are among the most difficult to enforce. Refugees are often vulnerable to diseases such as cholera and other epidemic or vulnerable to militiamen in certain cases such as Rwanda, Nigeria, Sierra-Leon and Liberia, the recent ones in Chad, Nigeria and Mali women and children suffer the hit of being rape in camps, even though there is no such situation in the Gambia, most of the line, the rations provided by the UN and other relief agencies are so insufficient that they battle over rations.[51]

Some recommendations along the line of the programme of action adopted by states and organization at the ICPD Conference in 1994 in Cairo-Egypt are:

(i)             Governments around the world are urged to address the root causes of movements of refugees and displaced persons by the promotion of peace and reconciliation, respect for human rights including the right of minorities, respect for territorial sovereignty and integrity.[52] The alleviation of poverty, democratization, good governance and the prevention of environmental degradation must be squarely addressed.[53]

(ii)            Governments are equally urged to strengthen their supports for international protection and assistance activities on behalf of refugees as well as displaced persons.[54] The physical health and protection of refugees need also to be treated as serious matters of concern.[55]

(iii)          Adequate International support should be extended to countries of asylum to meet the basic needs of refugees and to assist in the search for durable solutions.[56] Refugees need to be provided by the International community access to adequate accommodation, education, health services, (including family planning).

(iv)          Conditions for voluntary repatriation of refugees need also to be created by government and rehabilitation and repatriation programmes need to be provided by the International community. All government around the world, especially the autocratic and despotic ones in West Africa need to respect International convention and law concerning refugees as well as reinvigorate the principle of non-refoulement.[57] Refugees as well as asylum seekers need also access to fair-hearing.

(v)            It is on this note that I was able to address the dastardly acts of certain countries in the handling of refugees as well as asylum seeker. Thus, the principles of collective co-operation and International solidarity should be followed in assisting host countries, upon their request in alleviation of the Right of refugees and asylum seekers. This is typical of West African migrant who are more often marginalised of hunger and famine-stricken and perpetually in search of good life.

Governments especially in West Africa are urged to increase their support for states that cater for refugees so that their facilities are not overstretched and went the expulsion of refugees as was recently the case in Libya in spite of direct appeal to it by the United Nations in August 1995.

















1.     Bird R, (Osborn’s concise Dictionary, London sweet & Maxwell, 1983).

2.     Eze,O.C , Human Rights in Africa: selected problems (Lagos: NIIA/Macmillan pub 1983).

3.     Hofman, R  (Refugee in the African context perspective on Human Rights, 1992).

4.      Laws of The Gambia (Refugees Act) chapter 16:04 no 15 of 2008.

5.     Madsem, G. status of Refugees in international Law,(Leiden; sijtthoff,1966). 

6.     Schulthis, M.J.,”A continent in crisis: Migrates and Refugees in Africa’’ in Emerging Human Rights; The political Economy context) edited by George W Shepherd Jr.(USA Greenwood press inc.1990).   


1.     A/CONF.171/13:Report of the ICPD (94/10/18)(385k)

2.     Article 1 A (2) of convention relating to the status of refugees in Human Right, A compilation of     International instruments (New York: United Nations, 1988)299.

3.     Art. 2(2) of OAU convention relating to speed problems of African refugees.

4.     Art 6A (1) UNHCR statute, 1950.  

5.     Article 1(1) C.R.S.S.P 1960 in Human Right a convention of international instrument.

6.     Article 3 of the 1951 convention I.C.P.D.Cairo, Egypt, 1994. 

Electronic Sources   

1. on 28 Jan 2014. Annan, N, 2014. Violent conflicts and civil strife in West Africa: causes, challenges and prospects. Stability: International journal of security and development, 3(1), p. act.3, DOI

2. Past Accessed on 1/27/19 

3.     de Soysa, NP Gleditsh, M Sollenberg > 1999 >


1)     I.C.P.D. international conference on population and development.1994 Convention.    . 

2)     The UDHR, 1948  Universal Declaration of Human Rights

3)     UN Convention 1951


1.     The point Newspaper Thurs 31 January 2019.

[1] G Madsem, ‘Status of Refugees in international law’ (1966) 91.

[2] Problems of Refugees, The past present and future of human migration.>story>

[3] Report of the I.C.P.D (94/10/18)(385K).

[4] Ratified Convention and Protocols (1951 ): 2/3 of all countries in the world have ratify.

[5] Laws of the Gambia (National Commission for Refugees Act No 15 of 2008).

[6] R Hofman, ‘Refugee in the African Context, Perspective on Human Rights’ ( 1992) 33.

[7] OC Eze, ‘Human Rights in Africa’  Lagos: NIIA/Macmillan (1983) 167.

[8] E Rebecca (Daily mail. 16:01, 23 Apr 2012, Updated 19:37, 23 Apr 2012).

[9] Art. 1A(2) of the convention relating to the status of refugees in Human Right, A compilation of International Instruments (New York :United Nations, 1988) 294.

[10] Human Rights; A compilation of International Instruments United Nations Publication (2002) 311.

[11] OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspect of Refugee Problems in Africa (Adopted on 10th Sep 1969, entered   into force on 20th June 1974).

[12] The Refugee Convention (1951).

[13] Osita, op .Cit ,p. 170

[14] Ibid  (pp 167-170).

[15] MJ Schultheis, ‘A continent in crisis :Migrates and Refugees in Africa in Emerging Human Rights’ (The political Economy context) edited by George W Shephered Jr.(USA Greenwood press inc.1990) 15.

[16] Art. 1(1)C.R.S.S.P (1960) in Human Right A convention of international instrument, (1960) 67.

[17] Draft of I.C.P.D. Cairo, Egypt (1994) 67.

[18] Hofman, 33.

[19] Obi, C 2012 Conflict and Peace in West Africa> Uppsala, Sweden: The Nordic Africa Institute. Available at http://

[20] Ibid, 33-34

[21] The Point News Paper, Thread of deportation of Gambians (Banjul,Gambia, 22nd  January, 2019).

[22] Ottaegbulum, ‘Economic Wars’,  205 – 206.

[23]>uploads>2016/07 (The European Council on Refugees and Exiles, position on exclusion from refugee status, March 2004).

[24] Bird R, Osborn’s concise Dictionary (London sweet & Maxwell, 1983) 37.

[25] Osita, 177.

[26] Art. 14, UDHR.

[27] Ibid

[28] UNHCR Human Rights Protect Refugees, 18.

[29] Refugee Convention, Art. 31.

[30] Ss. 32, & 33 of Convention and also S28 cap 16.04 Gambia refugee Act No 15 (2008).

[31] See S24 of NCRA 2008 and S1.of NCRA 1990.

[32] (Blog post by Guest Blogger for John Campbell, October 11, 2018).

[33] Art. 3, (1951 Convention).

[34] Art. IV of the OAU Convention.

[35] Eze, 183.

[36] Gasiokwu, 16.

[37] Eze, 185.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid, S4 (2).

[41] Laws of the Gambia, Refugees Act (2009).

[42] Ibid, S. 39(3) .

[43] Ibid, S. 39 (3) .

[44] Ibid, S. 41 (1).

[45] The Point Newspaper Thursday 31 January (2019) 3

[46] Ibid.

[47] Refugee Act (2008), S34 (2).

[48] Refugee status Determination procedure in Nigeria (National Commission for Refugees, Act 1989, chapter N21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria).

[49] Ibid, S.39 (3)

[50] Ibid.


[52] ICPD, 73.

[53] Ide Soysa, NP Gleditsh, M Gibson, M Sollenberg>1999>


[55] Ibid

[56] Ibid