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Strategies for adopting National Policy on IDPs

Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. Email: [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]. BLOG SITE: – http://mtladan.blogspot.com/ Being a…

Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. Email: [email protected], [email protected] and mt[email protected]. BLOG SITE: – http://mtladan.blogspot.com/
Being a paper presented at the National Summit On IDPs in Nigeria organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Abuja
Internal displacement in Nigeria is a recurring and large-scale phenomenon and has affected most of the country’s 36 states. Africa’s largest populated country has seen many waves of displacement, both small and large scale, caused essentially by conflict, generalized violence, natural disasters and human rights violations.
As at the end of 2014, of the global 38 million forcefully displaced by armed conflicts and generalized violence, Nigeria accounted for at least one million. Between July and October 2012, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) estimated in a published report that a total of 7.7 million people were affected by the flood disaster across the federation. Out of the affected population, 2.1 million people were internally displaced (IDPs); 363 persons died and 18,282 people were treated for injuries they sustained during the flooding. As at January 2014, about 165,000 people were displaced by both floods and conflicts in IDP camps in Nigeria.
Having recognized that in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world, IDPs are amongst the most vulnerable populations, the Federal Government of Nigeria signed and approved the ratification of the African Union (Kampala Convention) for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs in Africa. Nigeria formally ratified the convention on 17 April 2012.
It is against this background that this paper seeks to achieve the following objectives: –
To underscore the importance of adopting the revised Draft National Policy on IDPs, 2012 and domesticating the AU Kampala Convention on IDPs in Africa;
To highlight strategies to be considered for adopting the policy and domesticating the Convention as well as their implementation framework in Nigeria;
To further underscore the need for monitoring and evaluation of implementation of both the policy and the legislative instrument domesticating the Kampala Convention in Nigeria;
To conclude with the way forward for Nigeria
Recent trends in Internal Displacement in Nigeria: – 2011-2015
First, increasing violence, which often stems from competition for access to political power and access to resources, as well as failure to address past socio-economic and political imbalances, injustices and inequities across the federation, continues to cause internal displacement in Nigeria.
Second, the role of armed militant/insurgent/criminal groups as new agents in forcing people to flee from their habitual places of residence is also a significant trend, especially in areas where government security forces had little reach or capacity to combat such groups or deploy actual counter-insurgency operations. One of the latest largest waves of internal displacement took place in late December 2011, following a series of attacks by Boko Haram insurgents/armed groups and subsequent clashes with the army, which caused the displacement of about 90,000 people. Since January 2012, thousands of IDPs have reportedly moved and families split up in order for women and children to flee to safer areas outside the troubled north-eastern States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
In February 2015, the displacement tracking matrix of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) identified nearly 1.2 million IDPs living in the North-eastern States of Nigeria. In addition, NEMA registered over 47, 000 IDPs in central part of Nigeria.
Another trend of displacement is the fact of protracted and neglected situations: Many of Nigeria’s IDPs are believed to have been displaced for years due to conflicts, generalized violence and/or natural disaster and continue not to enjoy a number of rights, such as the right to an adequate standard of living. IDPs who return home soon after the event that made them flee their home are sometimes faced with the destruction of property, crops, infrastructure and acute ethnic and/or religious tensions, particularly in central and northern Nigeria. These adverse conditions prolong their situation of hardship, render them unable to access durable solutions following their displacement, and regain the full enjoyment of their rights.
More than two million urban Nigerians, particularly slum-dwellers and other marginalized people have been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000. Most notable in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. These government-sanctioned evictions are usually carried out in the name of security and urban renewal programmes. In 2012, tens of thousands of people were forcefully evicted in Abonnema and Makoko slums in Rivers and Lagos States respectively. Further demolitions took place in 2013, mostly because of development programmes.
Finally, progress made in recent years to protect and assist IDPs in Nigeria is encouraging. For example, NEMA in collaboration with relevant stakeholders have reasonably been attending to the needs of the IDPs in terms of camp coordination and camp management with reasonable safety and security measures, provision of food and nutrition, access to basic health, reproductive health, education, water and sanitation services, emergency shelter and non-food items. After the relief phase of displacement, NEMA in collaboration with relevant stakeholders organized programmes for rehabilitation of survivors, reintegration of displaced persons, reconstruction of infrastructure and environmental remediation.
The country 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. One year on, 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.
Understanding the Framework for National Responsibility to Prevent Internal Displacement, Protect and Assist IDPs through a national policy and implementing legislation for the domestication of the Kampala Convention in Nigeria
National responsibility is fundamental to ensuring an effective approach to internal displacement. 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.
For example, governments may lack adequate capacity to address internal displacement, especially if large numbers of people are involved, if they constitute a large percentage of the country’s population, or if the displacement persists for several years.
The State’s exercise of its national responsibility for IDPs, therefore, must be the basis for an effective response to internal displacement. It is not a matter of navigating around the principle of national responsibility but of being guided by that principle and consciously gearing all efforts to achieve an effective response.
The primary role of the State is clear, both recognized in international law and regularly reaffirmed in international statements. Most notable is UN Resolution 46/182 (1991), “Strengthening the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance,” which remains the normative basis for international humanitarian action:
The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, humanitarian assistance should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle based on an appeal by the affected country.
Each State has the responsibility primarily to take care of victims of natural disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Hence, the affected State has the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory.

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