On 29 October, PSI with the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI) and other partners and stakeholders in the Nigeria PSI Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Project organized a short walk in Abuja to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Kampala Convention.
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This 1.7km walk from Millennium Park to the Federal Secretariat Complex was part of a 2-day schedule of activities geared at upholding the human rights of IDPs by advocating for the adoption of a National IDP Policy and supporting durable solutions for IDPs in the country.
Key participants included the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary and the NCFRMI Federal Commissioner Sen. Basheer Garba Mohammed.
Figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) show that there are over 2.2 million IDPs in Nigeria, placing it as among the top five countries with the highest level of internal displacement in Africa.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) that was adopted on 6th October 2009 and came into force on the 6th December 2012. Ten years after its adoption by the AU, the Kampala Convention however remains to be domesticated in Nigeria into National Law.
Key tools and actions
The Kampala Convention has had an important impact on Africa and has been adopted by about half of African Union member states.
Establishment of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
Kampala Convention adopted by the African Union to build on 1998 United Nations Guiding Principles
Declared by the African Union as the "Year of Refugees, Returnees and IDPs"
Participants at Tuesday’s walk called on the Federal Government to ensure speedy passage and domestication of the Kampala Convention, with the Special Rapporteur, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary lauding Nigeria for its work in defense and support of IDPs but reminding all that there is still much to be done.
“There is need for the IDPs themselves to be encouraged to take part in projects that affect them. They ought to be a part of the decision-making process, as they are best placed to propose sustainable solutions. There is a Yoruba saying that goes: you cannot shave a man’s head without his presence or consent – that is applicable in this context.”, she said. “My advocacy work worldwide encourages the participation of IDPs in decisions that affect them, and I am happy to be working on this alongside other committed partners.”
Cecilia Jimenez-Damary UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs
There is a Yoruba saying that goes: you cannot shave a man’s head without his presence or consent – that is applicable in this context.
In his remarks, the Federal Commissioner NCFRMI, Sen Basheer Garba Mohammed said the Commission is delighted to celebrate the resilience of the IDPs. He said:
“Be rest assured that the Federal Government and its partners are working hard to find durable solutions to internal displacement within the country. The NCFRMI is committed not only to providing support for displaced persons, but to also ensuring that the number of IDPs does not increase in the country. We are working with security agencies and other relevant authorities to put a stop to known causes of internal displacement in the country.”
Also present at the walk, PSI Regional Secretary for Africa & Arab Countries, Sani Baba Mohammed, reiterated that IDPs are just like any other citizens and should be able to enjoy the same rights.
“IDPs have rights to basic healthcare, education and public services. However, most IDP camps in the country lack the adequate facilities to ensure that IDPs enjoy quality access to public services. Most of them are finding it really hard to survive. An improved legal framework will give IDPs themselves the right to engage the government and even the local communities so that they can have access to all their basic needs.”, he said.
The PSI Project on Building Trade Union Capacity to Defend the Human Rights of IDPs to Quality Public Services in Nigeria is supported by ASSR and Union to Union. Throughout the week’s activities, participants will consider how internal displacement issues can be integrated into relevant national and regional development frameworks, to ensure that IDPs and returnees are not left behind in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Agenda in Nigeria. Moreover, the ongoing project activities will link to the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the GP20 Plan of Action for Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for Internally Displaced People 2018-2020.