Abuja - The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said on Thursday that over seven million people were affected in various ways by the flooding that ravaged many parts of the country between July and October.
A representative of the Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sidi, said in Abuja at the multi-stakeholders forum on the Kampala Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally-displaced Persons in Africa that about 2.1 million people were internally displaced from their homes, while 353 were killed this year as a result various natural or man-made occurrences in the country.
At the forum, participants highlighted the challenges posed by the problem of internally displaced persons in Africa. Nigeria has been involved in international efforts to resolve the problem, including participation in discussions and consultations as a signatory to a number of international treaties and conventions protecting the rights of internally displaced persons.
The participants said there was urgent need for strategic policy initiative on the issue.
Discussants noted the prevalence of the problem throughout West Africa where individuals are constantly forced or compelled to flee their communities due to armed conflicts, generalised violence, human rights violations, natural disasters, impact of climate change, as well as large-scale development projects.
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Bem Angwe, noted the challenge of incomprehensive and inadequate data and information on the situation of affected persons, saying displacement patterns as a result of the problem are usually complex, with internally displaced persons not only forced to seek refuge in settings considered not conducive, but their families finding anonymity in urban areas.
Mr. Angwe, who was represented by a director, said the Commission, which is mandated to deal with matters relating to the promotion and protection of human rights in line with international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory, would continue to work with agencies and groups to make recommendations on actions that should be considered by government in compliance with relevant international human rights instruments.
He recalled several efforts by the Federal Government to address the problem of internally displaced persons, including hosting the first sub-regional conference in West Africa, which recommended that countries should develop national laws and policies on United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
The conference, he said, had also passed a resolution calling on states to ratify, implement and monitor international, regional and sub-regional human rights and humanitarian instruments relating to internal displacements, followed by the first draft national policy for Nigeria.
Similarly, he said the African Union, AU, has demonstrated commitment towards addressing the problem, including the adoption of the Kampala convention on the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons at the end of the special summit in October 2009.
The convention provides a common policy framework that is legally binding on member-states for protecting the rights of internally displaced persons as well as developing comprehensive responses.
So far, 37 of the 53 members of the AU, including Nigeria, have signed the Convention, which formally came into effect on Thursday throughout the continent.
The resolution at the end of the forum called on the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, to take steps to domesticate the Convention by accelerating the process of adoption of the draft legal framework for policy implementation.
The process involves an executive or private bill to be sent to the National Assembly for deliberation and passage into law to enable the convention to come into force.