By Abubakar Jimoh
In recent times, the recurring nature of numerous internal conflicts and natural disasters have rendered thousands homeless without means of livelihood to suffer a lot of depravity and other forms of hardship including loss of income from inability to work in places where they are relocated as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across the country.
This among other challenges brought to the limelight, the recent call by Honourable Sanni Zorro, a House of Representatives member for the domestication of the Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), primarily to mitigate the growing plights of the IDPs in the country.
Zorro, who chairs the House Committee on Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees and Initiatives on the North East, domestication of the IDPs’ Convention will lead to a permanent, holistic approach resolve the challenges faced by displaced citizens from their homes and communities as a result of wars, insurgencies, violence, natural disasters and related factors.
It would be recalled in 2014, a study carried out by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) to assess the situations of IDPs in various parts of the country revealed that the vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women and the aged remain the worst hit by the impacts of internal displacement across the country.
A National Summit organized organized by CISLAC in collaboration with National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs in 2015 to commemorate the World Humanitarian Day on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) freshened critically reflection on the need for adoption and implementation of African Union Convention on Internally Displaced Persons.
The Summit observed and lamented absence of frameworks to provide holistic approach in supporting IDPs’ search for durable solutions, and in preparing for and preventing future displacement. The Summit reiterated the importance of national responsibility to ensuring an effective approach to internal displacement, calling for prompt domestication and implementation of Kampala Convention on IDPs in Nigeria.
In April 2015, a joint assessment by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) identified no fewer than 1,538,982 registered IDPs in the states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Plateau, Nasarawa, Abuja (Federal Capital Territory), Kano and Kaduna.
On 6 December 2012, the African Union (AU) celebrated the entry into force of the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention. The Convention was endorsed in 2009 at an AU Special Summit in Kampala, Uganda and signed by 31 of the 53 member states of the African Union including Nigeria. Thus far, 16 states have ratified the treaty.
The Convention aims to mitigate the causes of displacement, including through establishing early warning systems and taking measures to reduce disaster risks. It also sets out the obligation of states to protect and assist internally displaced persons “by meeting their basic needs as well as allowing and facilitating rapid and unimpeded access by humanitarian organizations and personnel” and to ensure durable solutions.
It establishes that member states that are not in a position to meet the humanitarian needs of IDPs are expected to seek out and facilitate international assistance. The Convention also provides that humanitarian organizations must abide by humanitarian principles, international standards and codes of conduct.
In addition to access to humanitarian assistance, the Convention sets out a comprehensive set of protection issues, such as non-discrimination, freedom of movement and sexual and gender based violence, and obliges States Parties to take measures ensuring the protection of IDPs in these respects.