The UN refugee agency on Wednesday welcomed Somalia’s ratification of an Africa-wide treaty on the protection of internally displaced people.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the ratification of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Africa is a landmark achievement for the country and the African continent.
“The ratification of the Kampala Convention cements the government’s commitment to the millions of highly vulnerable internally displaced people living in Somalia, and to finding solutions for the issue of displacement,” UNHCR Somalia Representative, Johann Siffointe said in a statement.
The Convention known as the Kampala Convention was signed on Nov. 26 by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo after being passed with a near-unanimous vote by parliament last week.
The Horn of Africa nation is the 30th African Union Member State to ratify the convention since 2009.
The Kampala Convention which was adopted in 2009 by the AU’s 55 members is the world’s first and only regional legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of IDPs, who often face heightened risks, violations and sexual violence because of their displacement, while they struggle to access their rights and basic protection.
“The move is a significant milestone for Somalia, which has the fourth-largest population of internally displaced people in the world, estimated at over 2.6 million individuals,” UNHCR said.
In 2019 alone, more than 665,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to floods, conflict and drought, said the UN refugee agency.
According to UNHCR, serious protection challenges faced by IDPs include inadequate shelter, poor sanitation, insecurity, threats of evictions and gender-based violence. They often remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance
According to UNHCR, the Kampala Convention covers displacement from causes that include conflict, natural disasters, climate change and projects.
It affirms that States have primary responsibility for their own internally displaced citizens, but also calls for national and regional actions to prevent internal displacement and to ensure that such people are protected and helped.