PSI and its Swedish affiliate ASSR together with the Swedish Solidarity Support Organization, Union to Union, recognized a growing need to build the capacity of trade unions in the health and social services to represent the interests of workers affected by internal displacement.
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When actors from across the world marked World Humanitarian Day under the global campaign #NotATarget, WHO data indicated an alarming rise in attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances. In 2016, there were 302 such attacks across 20 countries. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), about 142,000 new displacements were recorded in Nigeria; with about 140,000 by conflict and 2,000 by disasters. An alarming rise in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) over recent years has led to a stronger need to strengthen the capacity of public sector workers in zones often badly affected by violent extremism and terrorism in the country.
PSI and its Swedish affiliate ASSR together with the Swedish Solidarity Support Organization, Union to Union, recognized a growing need to build the capacity of trade unions in the health and social services to represent the interests of workers affected by internal displacement by organising and campaigning on issues related to IDPs. Out of this partnership came the Building Trade Union Capacity to Defend the Human Rights of IDPs to Quality Public Services in Nigeria Project, which has been running since June 2018.
To strengthen trade unions’ capacity, the project uses, among other key tools, a written guide that provides trade union members with basic knowledge of the human rights of IDPs and to defend non-discriminatory access to quality public services. Training sessions were designed to increase the capacity of trade union members to engage and participate actively as a major stakeholder in advocacy, campaigns, policy development and social dialogue on issues pertaining to internal displacement and access to quality public services at all levels.
The project has made significant progress in terms of building the capacities of union members on the rights of IDPs, organizing health and social care workers in public emergency services into unions, and demanding the rights of IDPs to quality public services. Most recently, PSI brought together 102 participants for a 2-day capacity building workshop held on 26-27 September for union members from Yobe and Borno States in Northeast Nigeria, with the aim of:
Building knowledge on the legal frameworks on the promotion and protection of the human rights of IDPs and the role of public service trade unions
Developing lobbying and advocacy skills to influence policy and promote social dialogue
Launching PSI information, education and communication (IEC) materials on human rights, trade unions and quality public services for IDPs
Strengthening networking among stakeholders
The meeting’s opening day was dedicated to building capacities of participants of international instruments like the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs in Africa (otherwise known as Kampala Convention), ILO Recommendation 205 on Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience, ILO Guidelines for Public Emergency Services Workers and the Nigeria draft national policy on IDPs.
Day 2 of the workshop was dedicated to piloting PSI’s Trade Union Guide for Capacity-building and Advocacy on the Rights of IDPs in Nigeria, in addition to sharing strategies and recommendations for reinforcing trade union organizing. Invited dignitaries also jointly led the launching of the PSI IEC materials on Human rights of IDPs and the PSI #NotAtarget campaign in the state.
Among successful outcomes of this meeting were: increased publicity for PSI activities on IDPs in the region; the dissemination of useful IEC materials; increased membership number for the stakeholders’ network; the organization of more aid workers into unions; and strengthened capacities of health and social care workers on international instruments and national policies on the rights of IDPs. Also worth mentioning is increased recognition of the PSI Project by the State Government and all relevant stakeholders in Borno state, backed by promises to support activities related to the project
Upcoming activities in 2019 under the PSI IDP Project are as follows:
Stakeholders’ Forum and Project Culmination Event, 29-30 October, Abuja
Project Evaluation Workshop, 31 October-1 November
PSI Africa Regional Conference (AFRECON), including a Workshop on Migration, Refugees and IDPs, 12-15 November, Lomé, Togo
Commemoration of 18th December International Migrants Day