Bauchi - The United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday appealed to the federal and state governments to enact laws to govern the handling and protection of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country.
The Commission’s Protection Officer in Bauchi State, Mr Herve Kuate, made the call in Bauchi at three-day training on practical protection skills and legal frame work governing IDPs.
Kuate observed that with the current humanitarian crises resulting in large number of IDPs, particularly in the North East, Nigeria needed legislation that would deal with displaced persons.
According to him, the challenge of handling and protection of IDPs will be better addressed if there are laws guiding the process.
He disclosed that Nigeria was a signatory to the 2009 Kampala Convention that provides regional legal framework with regards IDPs in Africa, as defined by the African Union.
He added that the document sets standards of treatment of IDPs during displacement, provides durable solutions and measures to prevent displacement.
"As a signatory to that document, the provisions applied to Nigeria but unfortunately, the Nigerian government is yet to domesticate the provisions for it to take effect in the country.
"There is the need, therefore, for the federal governments to enact a law at the domestic level, that would guide the handling and treatment of IDPs," Kuate said.
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The Officer also suggested the establishment of IDPs Protection Sector Working Group (PSWG) at the state level to specifically handle protection issues relating to IDPs.
He said the PSWG was initiated at the national level in 2013 by major stakeholders concerned with IDPS in the country, and currently being chaired by National Human Rights Commission and UNHCR.
He explained that the aim of the Group, is to strategize and coordinate efforts of stakeholders to improve the protection of IDPs from abuse, in view of the evolution of humanitarian crises in Nigeria, particularly the North East.
"It would help us with a common understanding of human rights issues with great concern, particularly the insurgency-affected areas.
"It would also enable humanitarian workers to achieve a more coordinated and effective protection response," he said.
The training, organised by UNCHR, has in attendance, 35 participants’ from NEMA and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
Also, in attendance are members of the Red Cross from states hosting IDPs in the North East Zone.
Others are staff of the Ministry of Health, Social Affairs, Education, Women Affairs, Local Government staff, as well as community and traditional rulers from IDPs host communities.