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IDPs: In search of better welfare, protection

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Pegi Village

A stranger visiting Pegi, a remote village under Kuje Local Government Area in the Federal Capital Territory for the first time, might not know that there are over 300 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), living with different families as they strug- gle to survive. Unlike the everyday IDP camps we see around such as the popular Durumi camp equally located in Abuja, these displaced persons are lucky to have been integrated into the community, however, like every other IDPs, they are living their lives engulfed in so much constraints and without access to certain needs and desires. 60 year old Hauwa Dungus from Chibok, who has been living in Pegi since 2014 after spending three months in the bush while running away from boko haram insurgents, says “nowhere feels like home.” Like Dungus, arriving Abuja with no extra clothing, money or food- stuffs, most of the IDPs especially women and girls, had fallen prey to opportunists who capitalized on their vulnerability to entice them into having sexual relationships which in some cases, had led to infectious diseases and unwanted pregnancies as the case maybe.

Foreigners at home

The children living like foreigners in their own country, IDPs are vulnerable economically, socially, psycho- logically, emotionally and politically. Unfortunately, a good number of individuals, the society and government, have continue to take advantage of the Internally displaced directly or indirectly. Sadly, this is so because these set of special persons are not enjoying their full rights due to ignorance lack of resources to pursue matters in court, lack of political will to guarantee their rights on the part of government, low self esteem, corruption and sabotage With about 1.9 million displaced persons in over 321,580 households across six states of North-East Nige- ria, there is need for a National legal framework on their protection and assistance because just like all other human beings, IDPs are entitled to human rights as derived from natural rights; they are also entitled to fundamental rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

Legal framework

It is on this basis of ensuring there are legal and institutional frameworks to better protect IDPs in Nigeria, that the Norwegian Refugee Council (NHC), has called on the Nigerian government to speedily domesticate the agreements reached at the Kampala Convention about ten years ago. Speaking to INSIDE ABUJA, the Advocacy Manager NHC, Hilde Jorgensen, stressed that the convention when domesticated would give anyone who was displaced in Nigeria a bet- ter legal framework to fight for their rights, and better protect them even though they already have rights in the constitution. “2019 is the African Union Year of the Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced People. 2019 also marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention on Refugees, and the 10th Anniversary of the 2009 AU convention on IDPs in Africa Kampala Convention. “We, the representatives of the governments of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe States and CSO’s, call for the rapid implementation of the Abuja Action Statement on Protection, agreed and signed by the Government of Nigeria in 2016, and renewed in 2019. ‘Most especially the critical action of domestication and implementation of the Kampala Convention. We call on Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently and without further delay find ways to domesticate the Kampala Convention. Domestication of the Kampala Convention is critical and urgent in order to encourage all authorities to be responsible in situations where the rights of IDPs are deprived,” she said. Jorgensen who noted that the NHC conference equally got contributions from the Department for International Development (DFID), urged all relevant stakeholders to work together towards raising an awareness and educating the IDPs on their rights, and how to stand up to demand and defend themselves.

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