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Go-ahead for IDP convention

The African Union flag. Anthony Mitchell/IRIN
The African Union flag: Member states are making plans to implement the Kampala convention on the protection of internally displaced people (file photo)
African Union members have adopted plans to implement the Kampala convention on the protection of internally displaced people, including increasing their contributions to refugee and IDP funding and accelerating the convention’s ratification, signature and domestication, the AU said.

Signed by 26 countries since it was endorsed in the Ugandan capital of Kampala on 23 October 2009, the convention obliges governments to recognize that IDPs have specific vulnerabilities and must be supported, according to Walter Kälin, Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.

It covers all causes of displacement, is forceful in terms of responsibility and goes beyond addressing the roles of states to those of the AU and non-state actors. The instrument is aimed at progressively eliminating forced population displacement caused by conflicts and to reduce the suffering of those displaced by natural disasters in Africa.

AU ministers responsible for forced displacement, who met in Addis Ababa on 4 and 5 June, agreed to seek support for implementation from non-traditional and private sector partners and to accelerate the convention’s ratification at an AU summit in Kampala in July. Domestication includes voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement, and strategies for prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, as well as post-conflict reconstruction and peace building.

More than 10 million sub-Saharan Africans are affected by forced displacement, according to the AU. These include 2.1 million refugees, 305,000 asylum-seekers, at least 6.3 million IDPs and about 100,000 stateless persons. Africa is also home to three of the world's five countries with the largest conflict-induced IDPs, namely Sudan (about 4.9 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (one million) and Somalia (1.5 million), data from the Brookings-Bern Project shows.

The Kampala convention, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is the custodian of international humanitarian law, provides a solid framework for enhancing the protection and assistance of IDPs in Africa. To become a binding document, it has to be ratified by 15 of the AU's 53 members. So far, one has done so.

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