The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in conjunction with civil society groups from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, have urged the Nigerian government to urgently domesticate the Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP).
At a conference in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, on Thursday, facilitated by NRC, critical stakeholders identified escalating sexual exploitation, rape and other forms of violations of the rights of the IDPs as drivers for the urgent call.
Kampala Convention, among other things, seeks to promote the dignity of IDPs irrespective of their status. The convention clearly stipulates that displaced persons are entitled to normal lives that enables them to access education, human development, medical facilities, social amenities, among other social services.
The convention, which Nigeria is one of its key signatories, enshrines that an IDP has a right to employment and choice of when to return to their original homes.
Mala Abdulaziz, Dr. Tina Olayemi and other CSO leaders, who jointly addressed the press after the conference, decried the rising abuse of the rights of IDPs, especially sexual offences.
Human trafficking issues involving IDPs was also discussed, and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) was charged to rise to the challenge.
"NAPTIP and institutions protecting against sexual assault and referral centres must be strengthened. Massive awareness to make the public and IDPs alike become aware of such institutions and relevant laws by all stakeholders, should be carried out,” a statement on the resolutions at the conference read.
Another key issue of concern as stressed by the CSOs is the growing IDP population without corresponding resources to cater to their needs.
"There is a need to focus proactively on local integration of IDPs. At the same time, resources and capacity of local host communities are overstretched; economic and commercial activities cannot sustain the current influx of people. This might lead to more crime and insecurity.”
The stakeholders also deliberated on how supply of aid is drastically waning for IDPs in Adamawa State in particular.
"Although camps have closed officially in Adamawa State, we still have IDPs in Malkohi, Fufore and even here at the main camp, and supply has virtually stopped,” Mala said, adding that there are large scale needs in many LGAs across the three Northeastern States (Borno, Yobe and Adamawa) affecting both IDPs in camps and IDPs living in host communities.”
The CSOs urged the Nigerian government to urgently find ways to domesticate the Kampala Convention.
"Domestication of Kampala Convention is critical and urgent in order to encourage authorities to be responsible in situations where the rights of IDPs are deprived,” the statement added.