The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Abuja in partnership with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre / Norwegian Refugee Centre (IDMC/NRC), Geneva, Switzerland organized a 2-day multi stakeholders’ conference on Internally Displace Persons (IDPs). The Conference was aimed at examining the plight of IDPs in Nigeria in the light of relevant international and domestic legal frameworks including the Kampala Convention and designing a plan of action for its ratification and domestication, as well as identifying measures for attaining durable solutions to the challenges of internal displacements in Nigeria.
The Conference was attended by about 75 participants drawn from Civil Society and Faith Based Organizations, the academia, international and national humanitarian assistance providing Agencies, relevant government institutions and the media. There were four plenary sessions in which nine presentations were made by Resource Persons and representatives of relevant organizations and Agencies. There were interactive sessions with questions and answers and three group work sessions were held to elicit maximum input from participants.
At the end of the 2-day Conference, Participants made the following observations:
- Internal Displacement as a result of conflict and violence, natural and human-made disasters as well as development projects is a phenomenon affecting tens of millions of people worldwide, including at least 42 million people displaced by disasters and 27.5 million displaced by conflict and violence worldwide.
- Africa is the most affected continent by conflict and violence with an estimated 11.1 million displaced Africans, which does not include the number of IDPs in Nigeria. Existing figures are contradictory and pose a challenge for assessing the full scope and impact of internal displacement
- There is presently inadequate legal, policy and institutional frameworks for effectively addressing the needs of IDPs in Nigeria
- The Kampala Convention has not yet been ratified by the required number of countries, including Nigeria and is therefore not yet in force
- The response to internal displacements in Nigeria is largely uncoordinated leading to unreliable data comprehensive data, inefficiency, duplication and insufficiency in addressing the needs of affected populations
- Internally Displaced Persons are the primary responsibility of the Government of Nigeria which has a constitutional obligation to address their needs irrespective of international instruments
- The existing gaps in policy and response to IDP issues make the affected populations vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation, abuse and inhuman conditions
- Internally displaced persons have rights which must be protected using all available resources and mechanisms
- Nigeria is yet to adopt a National Policy on Internal displacements in spite of having a draft ready and revised twice in the past 5 years
- Conflict induced displacements receive so much attention at the expense of other causes
- Politicisation of ethnicity is major cause of conflict that results in IDPs in Nigeria.
- Absence of good governance and people centred policies are contributory factors to the increase of IDPs even when the number of refugees is reducing in the country.
Participants also recommended the following:
- There is a need for the government to adopt a comprehensive policy, legal and institutional frameworks for the management of internal displacements in Nigeria
- The government of Nigeria should develop a coordinated and multi disciplinary strategy for addressing emergencies and the needs of IDPs, including through the collection of data on IDPs across the country and provision adequate funding for the protection and assistance of IDPs.
- The Government of Nigeria should clarify the mandates of state institutions responsible for emergency response and IDP management to avoid conflict, duplication and wastage of resources
- Relevant state institutions should transcend legalism and seek more ways of collaboration, placing the needs of IDPs ahead of bureaucratic and statutory bottlenecks
- The Government of Nigeria should ratify the Kampala Convention to facilitate its coming into force and thereafter domesticate it for enforcement in the country
- All stakeholders should develop a right based approach to disaster management and management of internal displacements to ensure that IDPs are accorded all necessary rights as due every other citizen.
- Nigeria should develop an EPR strategy as well as develop guidelines for harnessing specialized capacities for emergency response and IDP management
- Civil Society and other non state stakeholders should invoke municipal laws and constitutional provisions to make the state fulfil her obligations to IDPs
- All stake holders should give more attention to people displaced as a result of government action and development programmes
- All stakeholders should promote good governance to reduce conflicts and enhance effective emergency response and management of IDPs.
The conference, which was well attended, was participatory with contributions from participants. The participants developed a plan of action which included recommendations on how to work towards technical support, the ratification, domestication and the Kampala Convention in Nigeria. It also included advocacy and awareness raising, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation of assistance and protection, developing a comprehensive IDP data base, preparedness for new incidents and displacements, and how agencies and stakeholders can effectively implement the policies and laws when it’s put in place.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani Kim Mancini Beck
Executive Director Senior Legal and Training Officer