DAR ES SALAAM, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations said on Sunday the refugee situation in East Africa and the Horn of Africa was alarming.
"This pathetic situation of refugees in the region is caused by grave food shortage and armed conflicts," said Victoria Akyeampong, the Head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for East, Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region.
She said the situation was equally worrying in the Great Lakes region, another flash point of political violence in the continent pitting militia groups and the government forces.
"The situation is too alarming. We have to develop a mechanism on how to address the crisis," said Akyeampong on a visit to the East African Community (EAC) headquarters in Tanzania's northern tourist town of Arusha.
The UNHCR regional boss and the EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko agreed to form a task force to develop and implement the regional mechanism on management of refugees.
"I am happy today that we have agreed to work together. Our region has for a long time suffered a lot in the context of refugees and that explains why we in the EAC look at the refugee issue as one of the critical areas of regional integration," said Mfumukeko.
EAC and UNHCR have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties in March 2010 which established a framework for cooperation in areas of conflict prevention, peace building, early warning and response and movement of persons, among others.