High lights of the Virtual Workshop on Internal Displacement in Africa 25th June 2021

On the 25th of June GENIDA held an online workshop towards the development of sustainable solutions to internal displacement in Africa. The workshop was attended by network members across many areas in Africa, disciplines and sectors, including government, civil society and academia. With the help of stakeholders, the workshop sought to create sustainable responses to the issues on the protection of IDPs with a focus on country level presentations on the state of IDPs in Africa as shown below.

Chukwudi Clement Iweh from Nigeria presented on the topic Establishment of Ministries for Peace as ways of Strengthening Local Peace Infrastructures. It is stated that infrastructures for peace can address the root cause, constitute structures and act as catalysts for peace and reconcile tensions that arise from the dynamics of political, social and economic transformation. Clement highlighted that sustainable peace and peace building greatly depends on the availability of structured capacity to transform violent conflict and support peace building initiatives in Africa. Infrastructures for peace can address root causes of internal displacement. He further alluded that infrastructure for peace is based on the assumption that sustainable peace and peace building not only depend on the political will of all relevant actors but also on the availability of structural capacity and thus the need for ministries of peace.

Ndereyimana Jerome, PhD candidate University presented on the topic Challenge of African Union Law to ensure effective protection of  IDPs. Jerome presented that he sought through his research to create an assessment of the AU’s states respect to IDPs human rights and, the political will to comply with existing AU instruments on IDPs. He highlighted the root cause of Internal displacement and how they have been addressed by the existing legal framework, finding large gaps in legislations that address displacement. Jerome stated that nationally many human rights laws give protection on a general level but do not give specific attention to displacement, leaving individuals to be protected in times of war but not for the full duration of displacement. He also presented on the legal instruments that were in place before the Kampala Convention came into place and how they have been used to protect IDPs.

Nicoline Nwenushi Wazuh, a Gender and Development Expert/Consultant from Cameroon presented on the Exclusion of IDPs Concerns in Peace Building Initiatives in Cameroon. In Nicoline’spresentation, the gaps and inconsistence of the Cameroon peace building initiative were highlighted. She stated that there was lack of factual and statistical information on the persons regarded to as IDPs in Cameroon and there is also no evidence backing them as benefitting from government projects in the different peacebuilding initiatives. Nicoline also noted that the weaknesses in the peace building initiatives in Cameroon among others included frequent raids and arbitrary detention of IDPs without identification documents by security officials, lack of a specific law on the protection of IDPs and on Sexual Gender Based Violence apart from the penal code and failure to comprehensively address the causes of internal displacement. Nicoline called on the Cameroon government to further investigate the situations occurring with IDPs, creating in-depth assessments and mechanisms.

Dr. Edwin Yingi presented on the topic Enhancing cooperation in response on the Responsibility to protect. Edwin noted that the issue of displacement has reached crisis levels and R2P has been put in place to protect IDPs. R2Ps origin was not linked to IDPs but was aimed at avoiding genocide, ethnic cleansing and egregious violation of human rights. He recommended that R2P should be broadened to include democratic governance as the collapse of democratic governments and deficits in democracy are a leading cause for internal displacement. He concluded by recommending that the African Union should strengthen regional blocks while speaking in a unified voice leaving them in position to assist member states to domesticate R2P.

Wakgari K. Djigsa, School of Law, Wollega University, Oromia, Djigsa presented on the topic   Internal displacement in Northern Ethiopia, causes, magnitude and consequences. Djigsa’s presentation was aimed at highlighting how internal displacement in Ethiopia started and its magnitude. He stated that the major cause of internal displacement in Ethiopia has been the Tigray and Wollo Conflict against Federalism which was started in Oromia. The magnitude of the displacement is that 2 million people have been displaced from their homes, several thousand massacred in extra judicial killings and the use of hunger as a weapon of war. The challenges faced in responding to the crisis include the lack of a comprehensive IDP law, no proper enforcement of existing laws and failure to put in place a sustainable solution addressing concerns of IDPs like the root cause of the conflict, ending hostilities across the country, lack of response from the international community and failure to bring perpetrators of the atrocities to justice and to hold them accountable. Mr. Wakgari Kebeta Djigsa argues that the only solution is sustainable peace, requiring the government to address conflict and end hostilities across the country.

Dr. Samuel Okunade, a Nigerian at the University of Pretoria presented on the topic  An assessment of the state of internally displaced persons in Nigeria. Dr. Okunade presented that the IDP situation in Nigeria was as a result of insurgency, communal clashes and natural disasters and, the major affected communities are Bomo, Adamawa and Yobe. He also presented tabulated statistical data on the needs and challenges faced by IDPs in Nigeria. In Nigeria, there is a large reliance on local and international organizations, causing the Nigerian government to not fulfill its duties to protect against displacement. He concluded by recommending that the Nigerian government has to play its role in addressing the humanitarian crisis and, that CSOs and human rights activists have an important role to play.

The last segment of the workshop was a panel discussion which had three participants i.e. Devota Nuwe from the Refugee Law Project, Makerere University; Jerome Elie from ECVA, Geneva and Richard Obedi from Uganda. The panelists had a discussion on the presentations made and shared their experiences and perspectives on the different issues faced by IDPs that they have come across in their countries and line of work. Here, the panelists addressed the issues regarding accountability and lack of achievements, highlighting the lack of domestication of the Kampala Convention.

To conclude the workshop on Developing and Sustaining Solutions for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, Jacquelyn Sage from GENIDA completed the closing remarks, thanking the stakeholders for recommending solutions for the IDP crisis occurring across Africa.

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