By Abubakar Jimoh
Effort to commemorate 2015 World Humanitarian Day on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and reflect critically on the need for adoption and implementation of African Union Convention on Internally Displaced Persons, brought to the fore, two days National Summit organized by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with National Commission for Refugees, Migrants & IDPs, recently in Abuja.
In his opening address at the Summit, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Executive Director of CISLAC recalled that Nigeria has in the last three years hit with the intensified number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) than ever before, owing to the activities of insurgents, particularly the North Easter and other parts of the country.
While the fundamental purpose for the existence of government remains the protection of lives and properties of its citizens, the Executive Director acknowledged the daunting challenges facing the country, noting that the underlying push factors that drive the highest number IDPs must as a matter of urgency be addressed.
He said, “We commend recent Presidential Directives that speak to the resettlement and reuniting of IDPs with their families and see this as a much needed tonic to ensure proper coordination among relevant agencies towards achieving a common goal.
“Identifying that displacement also arises from environmentally induced causes and the recent alert warning received from the Government of Cameroun notifying the country of impending flooding that may arise from the release of water from the Lagdo Dam, futuristically, the collaboration of Cameroun and Nigeria in forestalling and limiting the havoc this action usually throws up is only logical.
“I use this opportunity in calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of scurried urgency fast-track the needed state machinery required for the adoption of the National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria.”
Speaking at the Summit, Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants & IDPs, Hajiya Hadizah Kangiwa, said the World Humanitarian Day provided Nigerians with opportunity for sober reflection on past events in the country and to celebrate those who laid down their lives trying to help others to live.
She said, “The Summit is being organized to create awareness on the plight of IDPs In Nigeria, the magnitude of displacement in the last 3 years, the protection lapses due to the absence of a Legal Frame work and Policy to coordinate the numerous agencies’ interventions and Sectoral approaches vis-a-vis the immediate intervention in form of relief and durable solutions for sustainable development.
“The recent security challenges in the country leave us with no choice but to give thought to honouring humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or suffered injuries in their line of duties and also to appreciate the ongoing work of humanitarian workers.
She commended efforts of some individuals who have carried out humanitarian actions at the risk of their lives such as: Dr. Adadevoh and her team of First Consultant Hospital, Lagos who lost their lives trying to prevent the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria even though they knew their patient had EBV including ECOWAS protocol staff that was earring the Ebola victim with official vehicle33; Nine Anti-polio Immunization Volunteers of Ministry of Health who were killed in twin terrorist attacks at Kano on Friday 8th February, 2013 while carrying out immunization exercise against polio on children – Hauwa Salisu, Hauwa Abdul’aziz, Sadi Muhammad, Ramlat Idris, Binta Salisu, Hadiza Ibrahim, Ramatu Wada, Jamila Yusuf, and Ibrahim Muhammad;
Enenche Akogwu, a reporter and an award winner of Channels Television for northern region who was covering the twin bomb blast in Kano in 2012, when he was shot dead while trying to interview sympathizers at the scene; Esther Udoye, who was crossed to death by a car that lost control while she went on emergency rescue operation to salvage the life of a victim of a burning car near the tollgate of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on 17th January, 2011.
Kangiwa acknowledged the resilience of some living humanitarian workers in serving humanity. These are: Ordinary Ahmed Isah of Brekete Family, for his non-discriminatory campaign against social injustice using airwaves platform since 2009; and Lt. Gen. Dr Djibrine (Rtd), Founder and President of Doctors around the earth, whose first task was curtailing Ebola outbreaks by mobilizing 40 doctors and nurses to each of the affected African countries.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Dr. Jamila Shu’ara explained that 19th of August is the World Humanitarian Day; a day set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to honour humanitarian workers all over the world.
She said humanitarians placed their lives at risk to help others in conflict zones and areas of natural hazards, noting that over the past decade, the numbers of people affected by natural disasters, wars, terrorist activities have risen so that more than 200 million are directly affected each year.
“Difficult challenges arise each year that require more flexible and adaptable humanitarian work. The increasing economic crisis and global challenges such as poverty, climate change and disease underscore the need for many more humanitarian workers.
“In 2013, there were 85 reported cases of violence against Humanitarian Workers and 185 victims of harm globally. In Nigeria, Polio Immunization Workers became victims of hostilities when they were murdered in cold blood while protecting children from the epidemics of poliomyelitis. Today, Nigeria celebrates one year Polio Free – thanks to these brave Humanitarian workers.
“In 2014, many health workers (including Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh a Senior Consultant Endocrinologist) were victims of untimely death as they battled to save Nigeria and indeed Africa from the deadly scourge of Ebola Disease. Thanks to Health workers; today, Nigeria and other African Countries are Ebola free.
“Recent developments in Nigeria, have led to an upsurge in the number of persons affected by one form of displacement or another. Available figures as of June 2015 put the number of individuals displaced by insurgents in the North East at 1,385,298. Although insurgency has undoubtedly been the greatest contributor to the figures of displaced persons; communal dashes and environmentally induced displacement have also been on the increase. At the peak of last year’s flood, which ravaged 28 States of the Federation, more than 7 million persons were directly affected. Displacements challenge our collective sense of humanity to give dignity to affected persons and impacted communities,” the Permanent Secretary added.
Dr. Shu’ara commended African Union Commission, which through the ‘Helping People Initiative’ celebrates the valiant efforts of African Humanitarian Heroes by providing a platform for illuminating their efforts. She therefore challenged the Civil Societies in Nigeria replicate the effort.
In a paper titled “Strategies for Adopting the National Policy on IDPs and Domesticating in Nigeria the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs In Africa”, Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan of Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, recalled that Nigeria ratified the Kampala convention on 17 April 2012 and rewrote the Draft Policy on IDPs in July 2012 to incorporate the provisions of the Convention, however, the Federal Government is yet to adopt the policy, and/or enact a domestic law to implement the Convention.
“The absence of such frameworks as a means of clearly defining roles and responsibilities has, and will continue to, hamper humanitarian and development efforts to mitigate the effects of internal displacement. They are also essential to a holistic approach in supporting IDPs’ search for durable solutions, and in preparing for and preventing future displacement,” he said.
Prof. Ladan reiterated the importance of national responsibility to ensuring an effective approach to internal displacement, when he said, “The fact that IDPs remain within the borders of their country means that it is their own State that bears primary responsibility for protecting and assisting them and for safeguarding them against forced displacement in the first place. This principle is affirmed in international standards, namely the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (1998), the African Union (Kampala) Convention on IDPs (2009), and regularly restated, both by the international community and by individual States. Although there exists broad consensus on the normative principle of national responsibility, realizing it often proves challenging in practice.”
Given the complexity of the consultative development of a national instrument on internal displacement, the University Don called for appropriate monitoring and evaluation framework of implementation of the Policy and the Domestication Bill; and substantial efforts national and other entities to keep the process on the national agenda
“The periods between validation and adoption, and then between adoption and implementation, are particularly important in this sense,” he said.
In order to sustain momentum for the adoption and implementation of the instrument, Prof. Ladan recommended among other measures, equipped capacities and decision-making powers for government body entrusted with leading the process; persistent advocacy by other national, regional and international entities with their relevant governmental counterparts to the legislature for swift adoption and implementation; expressions of commitment and support for implementation from other national, regional and international entities during the process; making and honouring of financial commitments for implementation; and ensuring national, regional and international entities’ planning and programming are in line with the instrument.