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African countries must step up their support for displaced people

Displaced Africans
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With the Kampala Convention, African countries have taken the lead in promising protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs). The Norwegian Refugee Council calls on African leaders to ensure its full implementation.

From 10th – 11th February, Heads of State and Governments are gathered in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for the 32nd African Union Summit. This year, AU’s theme is: “Refugees, Returnees and IDPs: Towards achieving durable solutions for forced displacement in Africa.”

The intensity of several armed conflicts across the continent has increased over the past decade and has brought with it a concerning trend of systematic targeting of civilians by belligerent parties. Africa is now home to more than 22 million refugees and displaced people.

“It is commendable that the AU is putting the displacement crises on top of their agenda for 2019. Some African countries are doing a tremendous job in providing safety for neighbours fleeing wars and persecution. We applaud these actions, and encourage other countries to follow their example,” said NRC’s representative to the AU, Yemisrach Kebede.

With the Kampala Convention, African governments were the first to put in place a regional, legally binding instrument that also provides for the protection of rights and provision of assistance to internally displaced people. It obliges African governments to protect the rights of people who are forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict, development induced displacement, generalised violence, human rights violations and natural or human-made disasters.

“Currently, many displaced people are left without necessary protection and support, both in their home country and in the countries where they seek protection as refugees. Stronger efforts are also needed towards finding durable solutions for people who have been displaced for years,” said Kebede.

“African governments that have ratified the Kampala convention, should now ensure its full implementation. In addition, we call for countries that have not yet signed up to this groundbreaking treaty, to do so,” she added.

NRC is currently providing humanitarian assistance to thousands of forcibly displaced people in 13 African countries. While African governments ultimately bear the primary duty and responsibility for the protection and assistance of its civilians, the international community should be ready to support.

“All parties to the conflicts have an obligation to ensure that people can access assistance, and should allow humanitarian organisations to safely and swiftly reach people in need with necessary support,“ said Kebede.

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