A delegation of advocates and specialists from PSI and the NCFRMI* visited Wassa Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in Abuja together with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs on 31 October as part of ongoing activities under the PSI IDPs project implemented in partnership with ASSR and Union to Union.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, has spent the last couple of days with PSI’s Migration Programme Coordinator Genevieve Gencianos, PSI Africa & Arab Countries Regional Secretary Sani Baba, PSI IDP Project Coordinator in Nigeria Moradeke Abiodun-Badru, ASSR’s Maria Östberg-Svanelind, and other important delegates; exchanging on effective mechanisms for ensuring that IDPs in Nigeria are not left behind. The camp visit comes a couple of days after stakeholders participated in a 1.7km walk in Abuja to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Kampala Convention on IDPs.

The visit was also preceded by a Stakeholders’ Forum with the theme “Upholding the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons: Organizing, Empowering, Delivering,’’ which gathered around 150 participants representing workers, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, experts and the IDPs themselves.

Wassa IDP Camp has a population of over 5,000 IDPs, who are mostly women and children from Borno and Yobe States in the north-east of Nigeria. These families have been displaced due to the violence by extremist terrorists within their home territories and forced to flee miles and miles away, with little to no belongings.

To address the crisis, PSI has been implementing a project called Building Trade Union Capacity to Defend the Human Rights of IDPs to Quality Public Services in Nigeria’s fragile northeastern territories since 2018.

Internal displacement figures

2.7m

Internally displaced persons in Nigeria

5,000+

Internally displaced persons at Wassa Camp

70%

Percentage of Internally Displaced Persons at Wassa Camp who are Women and Children

The project seeks to strengthen trade unions’ capacity using, among other key tools, a written guide that provides trade union members with basic knowledge of the human rights of IDPs and how to defend non-discriminatory access to quality public services. Activities under the project include training sessions designed to increase the capacity of trade union members to engage and participate actively as major stakeholders in advocacy, campaigns, policy development and social dialogue on issues pertaining to internal displacement and access to quality public services at all levels.

Another key tool is the Trade Union Charter of Rights and Charter of Demands for IDPs and Quality Public Services, which consolidates all the human rights norms and standards relevant to internal displacement, and providing the basis for demanding decent work, safety and dignity for all frontline workers.

During the visit, the Special Rapporteur and other delegates shared messages of encouragement to the IDPs at the camp, encouraging them to stay positive whilst key actors continue to make forward steps in the mission to ensure IDPs' rights are respected. Visiting delegates also distributed essential medical supplies to medical officers at the health post within the camp, before visiting the local market run by IDPs at the camp.

Genevieve Gencianos Migration Programme Coordinator - PSI

“We call on all relevant state and non-state actors to all play a part in addressing the needs of those affected by internal displacement. Everyone can play a part by working together: - from trade unions to NGOs, to humanitarian organizations, to international experts, to international agencies and donor organizations.”

The Special Rapporteur, in highlighting durable solutions -the prevailing theme in the week’s discussions- emphasized the need for increasing displaced persons' participation. She underlined that durable solutions can be achieved through the sustainable return of IDPs to their places of origin, their local integration in their places of refuge, or integration in another part of the country of their choice.

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs

“As Special Rapporteur, a key priority for me is to ensure the participation and empowerment of those who are most affected, -the IDPs themselves. They need to be involved in the planning and management of durable solutions in line with the principles of voluntariness, safety, dignity and non-discrimination. What really impressed me in this week’s events, however, is to see how workers and trade unions are carrying out an important role in bringing about durable solutions for IDPs.”

This week’s activities have brought together participants from various sectors to address internal displacement issues and how they can be integrated into relevant national and regional development frameworks. The overall goal is to ensure that IDPs and returnees are not left behind in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in Nigeria.

*NCFRMI = National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs – Nigeria