Convention to protect and assist displaced people goes into effect in Africa

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Francois and his family are internally displaced from the Congo

François and his family are internally displaced from the Congo – UNHCR/F.Noy

African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons also known as the Kampala Convention came into force on Thursday after being ratified by 15 member states.

The convention sets out a legal framework for protecting and helping  internally displaced persons.

It also obliges Africa states to actively seek ways to prevent internal displacement.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres says the coming into force of the convention was a historic breakthrough for the protection of the nearly 10 million internally displaced people in Africa.

UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba says civil war, drought and floods are the top causes of internal displacement in Africa.

"For us it should help to improve our access to IDPs in a more systematic way because that is not the case for the time being it all depends on the willingness of the government. We do hope that this means that whenever there is a displacement situation we will be allowed to go in do the assessment and provide the assistance as needed. That can also help with preventing a very difficult humanitarian situation but it could also mean that it will prevent a wider movement. Because when we are able to go into the areas where people have started to move and assist, there is humanitarian presence, people would stay there and they are closer to home. When there is no humanitarian assistance over time people move to other places and the humanitarian situation just deteriorates."

The largest IDP populations in Africa are in are in Somalia 1.4 million, Sudan 2.4 million, and Democratic Republic of the Congo where more than 2 million are internally displaced.

Patrick Maigua United Nations Radio Geneva.


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