6 December 2013 | Julia Blocher
Africa’s ground-breaking convention on internal displacement reaches first anniversary
Today marks the first anniversary of the Kampala Convention. This is the world’s first-ever continental instrument that legally obliges African governments to protect and assist internally displaced people. In a report released today, the African Union Commission together with the IDMC take a look back to see what progress has been made since it came into force last year.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to almost a third of the world’s internally displaced people (IDPs), with 10.4 million people displaced by conflict and violence as of December 2012. Further to this, 8.2 million people were newly displaced by disasters such as floods and storms during 2012 alone.
‘The magnitude of displacement in Africa calls for a response that goes beyond any one actor’s capabilities’ said the African Union Commissioner, Dr Aisha Abdullah and the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, in a joint foreword in the report. ‘Joining forces, rallying resources, expertise, and leadership from regional bodies, governments, and civil society is the only way in which we can chip away at the impact of internal displacement… Such a need for collaboration and participation is affirmed by the [Kampala] Convention’.
Using case studies from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, IDMC’s latest report, ‘The Kampala Convention one year on: Progress and prospects,’ illustrates the multiple and interlinked causes that force people to flee their homes. For example, in Kenya, displacement is identified as the result of a combination or sequence of causes which include inter-communal conflicts as well as severe droughts and weather events. Equally, in Nigeria in 2012, the most devastating floods in 40 years hit the country and displaced millions of people, adding to the vulnerabilities of those already fleeing from conflict and violence.
‘As well as displacement by conflict and natural disasters, the Kampala Convention also recognises other drivers of displacement such as forced evictions from development projects like dam building or mineral extraction,’ says Alfredo Zamudio, Director of IDMC. ‘This unique recognition makes it truly all-encompassing as it is only through an understanding of these various displacement drivers that relevant long-term solutions can be found.’
According to IDMC’s report, progress of the Kampala Convention has been uneven. Some states have made significant steps towards implementing its contents with Angola, Malawi and Rwanda all ratifying over the last 12 months, while 15 of the 54 AU members have yet to sign.
‘For those countries that have ratified, it is only the first step on the path towards turning its legal contents into concrete action that makes real change for people affected by displacement,’ says Zamudio. ‘For those countries who have not yet adopted the convention we urge them to do so, as a legal framework is the very basis of ensuring that people forced to flee inside their home country are still protected and respected as citizens in, and with, their own rights.’’
Today, IDMC staff are in Africa launching the report The Kampala Convention one year on: Progress and prospects
Help us spread the word by taking to Twitter, Facebook, and Google + in order to help spread the messages. Follow our away team too for live updates from the events, their handles are: @JuliaBlocher (in Dakar, Senegal) @1AlfredoZamudio @sebasalbu (in Addis Ababa, Ethopia).
For more on the Kampala Convention, go here