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

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    According to analysts, early indications are that Republican front-runner faces daunting contest against likely Democratic candidate, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora