As the World Refugee Day was observed on Tuesday, preparations were being made for the 29th African Union summit, which begins on June 27 and runs until July 4 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The summit will be the first since AU Commission boss Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma stepped down.
It comes when there is a clamour for reforms of union, particularly with regard to relieving it of its dependence on foreign donors.
It is not surprising then that key issues on the summit’s agenda are how to reform the AU, albeit with new forms of collaboration with partners.
Days before the heads of state summit slated for July 4, a seminar will be held to discuss the challenges as the AU guns for greater autonomy.
Among the participants will be senior AU officials and key partners from the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and China.
On the Refugee Day and during the entire week, pertinent issues were the focus amid concern about the refugee crisis that has hounded the world.
According to the UN, a record 65.5 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2016, the highest figure recorded since the UNHCR was founded after World War II.
Alarmingly, over a third of the displaced people around the world reportedly end up becoming refugees.
Even more disturbing is the fact that children are disproportionately affected by the crisis, with more than half of the refugees being under 18.
Sadly, these children account for more than half of the 22.5 million refugees seeking asylum, and a growing number of them are travelling alone.
In the meantime, more than 130 African migrants were missing or presumed dead when three boats sank in the Mediterranean.
Since the start of the year, more than 2,000 people have died or disappeared while trying to cross the sea.
Millions from countries like South Sudan and Somalia have over the years been fleeing persecution.
Many others from elsewhere in Africa are driven away by starvation.
Among the highlights of the week was a summit on refugees held in Kampala and attended by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
He was accompanied by a strong team that included UNHCR commissioner Filippo Grandi and World Food Programme boss David Beasley.
REFUGEE SOLIDARITY SUMMIT
The Refugee Solidarity Summit was hosted by President Yoweri Museveni.
Among those attending the event was Guinean leader Alpha Condé, who is the AU chairman, Ethiopia’s Premier Hailemariam Desalegn and several other leaders.
Given the millions who have perished in intra-African feuds, it can only be hoped that a time will come when internecine violence will be a thing of the past.