News / Africa

Kampala Convention is First of its Kind for Displaced People

Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.
x
Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.
Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
The world’s first comprehensive, continental treaty that addresses the multiple causes of internal displacement took effect on December 6, in Africa. The treaty, named the Kampala Convention, was first adopted by the African Union in October 2009 in Kampala, Uganda.

Fifteen countries are now bound by the convention, and 37 of the 53 countries in the AU have signed it, saying they will commit to the rights and well-being of internally displaced people as well as to other aspects of the convention.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, based in Geneva, Switzerland announced that Africa was the first to show leadership in creating a treaty that directly focuses on the plight of IDPs.  The treaty is comprehensive in that it addresses the multiple factors associated with displacement of people from their homes, including causes, effects, responses and prevention of displacement. 

Sebastian Albuja, head of the Africa department of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, IDMC, explained the significance of the treaty being developed in Africa.

“This is very important because first of all, Africa is the continent in the world with the highest number of people who are internally displaced.  That’s around 10 million people who are displaced in their country, and that’s only because of conflict and violence.  In addition to that, if you tally people who are displaced by building projects, or by natural disasters, the figure would be a lot higher.  So it’s really important because of the scope of the issue of the problem.  And, also because it’s an African solution to African problems.  It is African leaders who have pioneered this convention and have drafted it and negotiated it, so it’s important that Africa leads the way in adopting this binding legal instrument.”      

Albuja added this comprehensive framework is innovative because it will not only address the needs of people, but will also hold states responsible for making sure the rights of IDPs are protected, saying "it’s a historic convention because it’s the first of its kind, in that it sets specific obligations that governments must implement to help and protect people displaced within their own country."

There are many examples across Africa where humanitarian aid has been impeded by instability and violence.  Workers are simply not able to access those in need.  Albuja said the Kampala Convention will also address this challenge.

“The convention itself will not be able to stop armed groups directly.  But what it does, it sets these obligations for governments primarily, beyond humanitarian agencies, be it international or civil society agencies.  It sets the obligations on governments to do so, and what’s important that is the convention has a broad scope, so it covers different types and causes of internal displacement," said Albuja.

He added that “throughout Africa, millions are forced to flee from a really toxic mix of events.  They include wars, they include violence.  But also they include natural disasters, floods and droughts, and so on.  So it’s particularly important that the convention has this broad scope, and that’s what makes it an innovative instrument throughout the continent.”      

The treaty will also address the issue of what happens to people once it is safe for them to return to their place of origin.  This situation creates challenges in a number of ways, because in many cases, for economic reasons, people may decide to stay where they are, or move on to another location, or they could decide to return home.

“It’s very important to acknowledge that the convention is more of a beginning than an end," said Albuja. "It certainly has been a long process of negotiating the convention.  It’s been roughly three years.  But, it’s really a beginning.  What this means is that it sets these new standards that governments must implement. It’s really important for governments to carry on these obligations that the convention specifies.” 

The United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, also hails the historic breakthrough.

“Somalia was the first country which signed the convention back in October 2009. They ratified it in March 2011, and now that there is at long last a legitimate government, UNHCR is going to work with the authorities to translate these commitments under the Kampala Convention into an appropriate national IDP policy," explains Bruno Geddo, the UNHCR representative for Somalia. 

While the treaty is a historic achievement for Africa, Albuja said the hope is that it will encourage other world leaders to follow suit.  The convention itself will not change the plight of internally displaced people.  Rather, it will take those countries legally bound by the treaty to ensure that people are protected.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid