Who We Are

“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

Article 14, Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Promoting and Protecting refugees – maintaining human dignity

AU Watch is helping the AU to shape Africa’s future. With work that is always case-relevant, we are innovative, voices our opinions and offers support wherever necessary. AU Watch work on refugee, migrants, IDPs and asylum seekers provides legal and country-of-origin advice, critically monitors the work of the AU and its Member States, raises awareness and informs the public. It is also the point of contact for organisations working on migrations issues and experts.

What you need to know about Africa’s refugees: The second largest number of refugees in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa with almost 6.6 million displaced people.

How many refugees are there around Africa?

Refugee figures at a glance

At least 79.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18.

There are also millions of stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and lack access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement. That is unacceptable, in a continent that preaches Ubuntu, love, kindness and generosity. Africa’s self-inflicted refugee crises exposes the greatest hypocrisy ever touted by humanity.


Our Vision

Our vision is a sustainable and peaceful Africa in which there is no refugee or stateless person. We aim to lead Africa in research and education in the area of refugee and forced migration studies and to share our work regionally globally. We seek to realise this vision by taking forward new and transformative approaches to research, teaching and engagement with the AU, AU Member States, refugees, IDPs, migrants, asylum seekers and stateless people, informed by AU Watch’s long traditions of independent scholarship and academic freedom.

Core Mission

  • We work to ensure that there absolutely no refugees in Africa. A tall ask you might say. But how will there be refugees running away to seek refuge in another AU Member State if Africa is united, and everyone is free to go where he or she chooses?
  • We seek to uphold the basic human rights as enumerated by the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa of uprooted or stateless people in their countries of asylum or habitual residence, ensuring they will not be returned involuntarily to a country where they could face persecution.
  • Longer term, we also help refugees find solutions, by repatriating voluntarily to their homeland, integrating in countries of asylum or resettling in third countries. We work to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee their homes and country.
  • We are committed to providing aid to those seeking asylum by raising awareness, supporting those in need through aid and by organizing an action network. Our network of organizers is made up of solely volunteers and other local aid groups.
  • We harness the power of evidence and ideas through research and partnership to understand and confront migration issues and large-scale movements, develop solutions and create change. We hope to build knowledge and understanding of the causes and effects of forced migration in order to help the AU, its Members improve the lives of some of Africa’s most vulnerable people.

Our Focus


Refugees are persons who, owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or 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.

Internally Displaced People

An internally displaced person (IDP) is person who has fled their home for reasons of conflict or natural disaster but remains within their country of origin (i.e. they haven’t crossed an international border).
The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country


A person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons. The term includes a number of well-defined legal categories of people, such as migrant workers; persons whose particular types of movements are legally-defined, such as smuggled migrants; as well as those whose status or means of movement are not specifically defined under international law, such as international students.

Stateless People

Stateless people do not have a nationality and can struggle to realize their human rights.


An asylum-seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection.

• Sub-Saharan Africa hosts more than 26 per cent of the world’s refugee population.

• Over 18 million people in this region are of concern to AU UNHCR. That number has soared in recent years, partly due to ongoing crises in the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria and South Sudan. It has also grown as a result of new conflicts erupting in the Sahel.
• Across Africa, we work tirelessly to ensure that the displaced have access to services such as education and health care. We also create safe school environments, improve camp security and provide lighting in public spaces to help reduce the risks of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In 2015 alone, we established 12 new camps and expanded seven others due to continuing refugee emergencies.

We believe in…

Human dignity

We believe in treating everyone with humanity and respect.

Building community

We always prioritise working with local organisations and refugees themselves.

Acting quickly

We move fast to help where the need is greatest. Minimal red tape or bureaucracy.

Speaking out

We speak out against injustice meted out by both the AU and its Members. We believe in advocating for long term change.

Empowering people

We aim to enable refugees, IDPs, migrants and stateless people to take control over their lives.

Staying independent

We will always be an independent organisation, funded by people like you.

Help us, help them.