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ICRC Encourages Ratification Of Kampala Convention In Lake Chad Region

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has encouraged states in the Lake Chad region to ratify the Kampala Convention, which protects internally displaced persons and regulates the impact of armed conflict on civilian populations.

With her seven children, Fatima Mohammed, a displaced woman living in a host community in Maiduguri, Northeast Nigeria, built a shelter out of the remnants left after the Dalori Camp was shut down. The directive to shut down the camp and many others was issued last year by the governor of the state, Babagana Umara Zulum, as part of efforts to resettle all displaced people and refugees in the state.

“My children and I could not go back to Bama [a local government area in Borno State], and this is why we camped and constructed this tent here. We constructed the tent using the items left to us after our camp was closed. Five of us live under this single room, it gets extremely cold and severely hot depending on the weather, but that’s what we all have,” she told HumAngle in an interview.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has encouraged states in the Lake Chad region to ratify the Kampala Convention, which protects internally displaced persons like Fatima and her children and regulates the impact of armed conflict on civilian populations. The region has been devastated by over a decade of Boko Haram terrorism that led to a large humanitarian crisis affecting 11 million people.

The crisis has been characterised by violence, death, human rights abuse, injuries, displacement, famine, health needs, and loss of livelihood. Parties to the armed conflict are heedless of the protection of victims of the conflict under the Kampala Convention and too often disrespect the International Humanitarian Laws, which protect civilian populations and non-military objects.

HumAngle has reported cases of infamous violent attacks in Borno State, leading to high death records and some living with serious injuries. We have also reported the consequences of the forced resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region. 

Dr Gilles Carbonnier, ICRC’s vice president, described the situation as pushing many families to extreme conditions without access to fundamental needs.

“Despite efforts by state, humanitarian, and development actors, the situation in the Lake Chad region remains dire. Millions have been forced to leave their homes. Thousands of families are living in extremely precarious conditions, without proper access to food, healthcare and education,” Carbonnier said. 

According to the statement, out of the 11.3 million people in critical need across the Lake Chad Basin, over eight million are in Nigeria.

Two sisters living in a host community on the outskirts of Maiduguri as a result of their displacement. Photo: Usman Abba Zanna/HumAngle. 

“At least three million people are displaced, forced to flee their homes because of violence – with Nigeria accounting for more than 2.2 million from that total number. Entire communities are living in limbo, unsure if they will ever be able to return home.”

Carbonnier said, “the fate of displaced people must be recognised as a top priority in the Lake Chad Basin.”

The Kampala convention

Known as the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention), it was adopted in 2009. Signatories to the convention are committed to “sharing a common vision of providing durable solutions to situations of internally displaced persons by establishing an appropriate legal framework for their protection and assistance”.

For example, Article XI stipulates that “States Parties shall seek lasting solutions to the problem of displacement by promoting and creating satisfactory conditions for voluntary return, local integration or relocation on a sustainable basis and in circumstances of safety and dignity. 2. States Parties shall enable internally displaced persons to make a free and informed choice on whether to return, integrate locally or relocate by consulting them on these and other options and ensuring their participation in finding sustainable solutions.”

The convention will regulate the impact of the conflict on the displaced people at the centre of the humanitarian crises. “After more than a decade, the conflict in the Lake Chad Basin is taking a rising toll on people caught in the middle of it.” ICRC stated.

It further outlined the impact of the crisis on families who have encountered the consequences of displacement in the region as a result of people searching for safety and security. 

Abandoned ICRC’s facility responsible for restoring family links located at the closed Dalori IDP Camp I along Bama Road, Maiduguri, Borno State. Photo: Usman Abba Zanna/HumAngle.

According to ICRC, it has recorded over 26,188 cases of disappearances across Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. “Almost 15,000 were minors at the time of their disappearance. Of the total number of those missing, more than 25,000 are cases from Nigeria,” it reported.

Similarly, ICRC has described respect for the International Humanitarian Laws by actors in a conflict as indispensable.

“It is crucial that international humanitarian law be respected. Violations of these laws of war remain widespread – with civilians, health, and aid workers all too often being affected. Civilians are not a target,” it stated.

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Usman Abba Zanna

Usman is a multimedia journalist covering conflict, humanitarian crises, development, and peace in the Lake Chad region. He is also a media and conflict management consultant.

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