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IDPs: Why FG needs to adopt AU’s Kampala policy

By Sumisola Ajala

The plight of internally displaced persons has became worrisome to the extent that the African Union (AU) in 2009 held a convention in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, where it adopted a policy framework  that will assist millions of displaced people in the continent. The policy agreed on where to consider the plight of IDPs in all member states and share a common vision, so as to provide lasting solutions and establish an appropriate legal framework to protect and assist them financially. The union took into cognizance, the gravity of the crisis which is generating instability and tension in Africa.

They agreed to adopt measures aimed at preventing and putting an end to the IDP phenomenon by eradicating the root causes, especially persistent and recurrent conflicts, as well as addressing displacement caused by natural disasters including climate change, which to an extent has a devastating impact on human lives, peace, stability, security.

Considering the historical commitment of the AU member states to the protection and assistance of refugees and displaced persons, there was need to have a separate legal instrument on the IDPs and the union was ready to collaborate with relevant partners and stakeholders to ensure that they were provided with an appropriate legal framework to ensure their protection and assistance. They said most of the IDPs were forced to flee their homes to avoid the effects of armed conflict, violence, violation of human rights or natural or human-made disasters.

 

Based on this development, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, representing Adamawa Central, urged the federal government to quickly adopt the policy, so as to bring relief to the IDPs at their various camps. According to him, despite the federal government’s effort in tackling the problems caused by the insurgency, the challenges still persist, as the damages caused are grievous and government alone cannot rehabilitate the IDPs.

He explained that the Nigerian government has ratified the policies, but is yet to adopt them. According to him, if they are adopted the present situation in the North-East would have reduced minimally, saying the region is in disarray as the insurgency has continued to displace thousands of people  leading  to massive dislocation of the populace who are in several camps nationwide.

He said the present administration needs to adopt the policies, so as to bring succour to displaced persons who are living without security at the moment.

According to him, the insurgency increased in mid 2010, thereby causing an unprecedented displacement of over three million people who were forced to flee to other parts of the country with over one million taking refuge in Chad, Niger, Mali and Cameroon, adding that the vast majority of people seeking refuge are women, children and youths, who are facing all manner of threats to life and physical safety, as well as restrictions on movement.

Senator Nyako said if the AU policies are adopted it would tackle issues of humanitarian crisis caused by natural disasters, mankind and climate changes, but as it is now the failure to define roles and responsibility will continue to hamper humanitarian aid, adding that the same issues were raised last week as the world marked the World Humanitarian Day.

According to him, the AU hopes to achieve this by enacting laws or amending relevant legislation on the protection  and assistance of IDPs in conformity with their obligations under international law, designate an authority or body, where needed, which will be responsible for coordinating activities aimed at protecting and assisting IDPs, as well as adopt other measures including strategies and policies at the national and local levels, taking into account the necessary funds without prejudice to receiving international support.

The senator also said that the Adamawa situation was more pathetic, as most homes, businesses and farms were destroyed by the insurgents with the residents struggling for survival.

He said communities and local governments in his constituency, Hong, Girei, Fufore, Song and others could  not participate in the  farming season.

Nyako urged the government to adopt the polices of the African Union so that the damages caused by the insurgents on government institutions such as schools, health facilities, telecom, as well as security posts would be reconstructed.

 

Ajala is an Abuja based journalist and public affairs commentator

 

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