NRC Signs Historic Agreement with AU

Rolf A. Vestvik (22.04.2013)

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has signed a historic agreement with the African Union (AU). “We hope this strategic partnership agreement will strengthen both NRC’s and the AU’s efforts towards helping displaced people in Africa”, says Toril Brekke, Acting Secretary General of NRC.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Dlamini Zuma and Toril Brekke, Acting Secretary General of NRC, concluded an agreement between AU and NRC at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday 19th of April. Here they are photographed together with Commissioner of Political Affairs Dr. Aisha Abdullahi (to the left) and Hassan Khaire, Regional Director for NRC Horn of Africa (to the right). Photo: NRC/Erik Abild
The agreement was concluded between Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Dlamini Zuma and Mrs. Brekke at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday 19th of April.
“We are very pleased to enter into this strategic partnership with the AU. This enables us to increase our activities in conflict-affected areas in Africa and to distribute humanitarian aid even more effectively”, says Brekke.NRC is the first Norwegian organisation, and one of the few international aid agencies, to have this type of strategic partnership with the AU. Under the agreement, the AU will help the NRC to get access to refugees and internally displaced persons in the AU member states. In addition, NRC and AU agree to work together to strengthen the rights of the displaced in AU member states, including supporting the implementation of the Kampala Convention for the protection of internally displaced. NRC’s Internally Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) will play a key role in this.“For NRC, the AU is an equally important organisation as the EU. AU member states cover a vast continent where there are currently about four million refugees and ten million internally displaced persons. With support from the AU, we can reach even more of these people. In addition, we appreciate being able to cooperate with the AU on supporting implementation of the Kampala Convention, a ground-breaking new legal framework which binds governments to protect and assist internally displaced persons, ” says Brekke.

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Dr. Aisha Abdullahi underlined the strategic importance of partnering with NRC: “The scourge of forced displacements in Africa requires a consolidated effort. Therefore, the signing of an MOU with the Norwegian Refugee Council today, goes a long way in solidifying our joint efforts towards alleviating the suffering of victims of conflicts and disasters in Africa”, she said in a press release.

NRC has already similar strategic relationships with other actors such as UNHCR, but it is the first time the organisation enters into an agreement with a regional body like the AU. However, the cooperation with the AU and African governments is nothing new. Through the years, the NRC’s emergency roster has assisted the AU with specialists in several areas, and NRC is currently working in twelve African countries.

“Our emergency roster’s effective cooperation with the AU, as well as our increased activity in several locations in Africa, particularly the Horn of Africa, has probably played an important role for the AU’s desire to raise our cooperation to a strategic level. I think this partnership will be important and gratifying for both the AU and the Norwegian Refugee Council,”says Brekke.

Norway’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Odd-Inge Kvalheim, welcomes the new agreement: “Norway has large ambitions in the field of humanitarianism. To reach these ambitions we need professional Norwegian organisations that are able to make a difference. We are therefore glad that we have been able to support NRC in their work with establishing close relations to the AU”.