KINGSLEY BENNETH, Abuja
ABUJA: The Senate has moved to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country are protected, rehabilitated, reintegrated and resettled.
The Upper Chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday also sought to ensure the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, provision of foundational education and environmental remediation for survivors of conflicts in the country.
The Senate by a Bill on the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons In Africa (Domestication And Enforcement) Bill, 2021, which passed second reading noted that domesticating the Kampalla Convention “will pave way for a paradigm shift from relief and humanitarian assistance to IDPs which appears to be the focus of most IDP intervention in Nigeria, to other germane issues pertaining to IDPs nationwide.”
In his lead argument, Sponsor of the Bill, Senator Ibezim Chukwuma (Imo North), regretted that “the latter aspects of IDP management are not adequately addressed under existing legal and institutional framework as a result of overlap of statutory responsibilities or poor delineation of mandates.
As a result of this, most victims of displacement are left to their fate after the relief phase or even without basic relief assistance.”
According to him, domesticating the provisions of the Kampalla Convention signed by the federal government in October 2009, and ratified in April 2012, will comply with “the requirements of Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution which requires that treaties signed between Nigeria and other countries or international bodies should first be domesticated by an Act of the National Assembly with further ratification by a majority of the Houses of Assembly in the federation.”
Available statistics by the internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (iDMC) shows that as at the end of 2014, Nigeria accounted for at least 1 million of the 38 million IDPs worldwide. And by the end of 2020, the country has contributed about 2.7 million IDPs to global internal displacement figure of about 55 million with the figure rising daily and most victims camped in crowded IDP camps across the country.
Noting the need to provide education to survivors of conflicts who are displaced from their homes, the Imo North lawmaker said that “as an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities. We are also aware that people uprooted from their homes are even more vulnerable if they cannot read and write.”
Senator Chukwuma further called for a new framework to provide for effective monitoring of the implementation of the Kampalla Convention and future policies on IDPs in the country; adding that while intervention agencies like the “National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) continues to provide humanitarian assistance to natural/man-made disasters as provided in the enabling Act, the National Commission for Refugees (NCR) will be concentrating on refugee crisis.”
He reiterated that measures proposed by the Bill will help compliment relief agencies’ efforts to provide post-relief intervention to IDPs.