The Migration Unit is a thematically specialised unit of the Centre for Human Rights which conducts research, training, advocacy and monitoring in the area of human rights and migration in Africa. It works to promote the rights of forcibly displaced persons, to empower displaced persons, and positively impact on decision making on issues that have bearing on forcibly displaced persons in the African region. The main activities of the Unit are the following:
The Unit is mandated to conduct .research in areas of critical importance for the protection of the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), migrants and stateless persons. It aims to produce, and facilitate the production of research outputs that have practical significance to address the challenges encountered by these groups of persons.
The Unit organises workshops, seminars and short courses on forced migration in Africa. It strives to bring about change by training key stakeholders, including policymakers, refugee law judges, practitioners, media personnel and human rights activists. Its advocacy activities are geared towards influencing states to honour their obligations towards the rights of non-citizens and to ensure durable solutions for forcibly displaced persons.
The Unit also contributes to the Centre’s academic programmes in various ways, particularly through the Migrant Rights Clinic. The Clinic comprises a group of students who work on migration and produce evidence-based policy recommendations on addressing migrant issues within the South African context, but broadly also in Africa.
The Unit advocates for the protection and promotion of the rights of migrants in Africa. This includes the Unit’s advocacy for the increased ratification of displacement-specific treaties by African states. Since January 2022, the Unit has been advocating for the ratification of the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention).
As one of its areas of work, the Unit coordinates the Global Engagement Network on Internal Displacement (GENIDA). GENIDA is an international collaboration for the furtherance of the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Africa which responds to the paucity of research on internal displacement and the importance for more evidence-based knowledge in the furtherance of protection and assistance of IDPs.