West Africa: IDPs and refugees still need assistance, Kampala Convention needs to be ratified

13 July, 2011
Ivorian refugees waiting for non-food items to be distributed, in Dulay village, Nimba county, eastern Liberia. Credit: UNHCR/F Lejeune-Kaba
Ivorian refugees waiting for non-food items to be distributed, in Dulay village, Nimba county, eastern Liberia. Credit: UNHCR/F Lejeune-Kaba

In West and Central Africa, the daily numbers of migrants returning from Libya have fallen since the end of June. According to IOM, by 5 July, an estimated 188,000 people from 19 countries in West and Central Africa, especially from Niger and Chad, have now returned to their countries of origin.

Population movements continue due to the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. Although the situation was relatively calm in June, a significant number of people have continued to look for safety, crossing borders into neighboring Liberia.

According to the OCHA June 2011 Humanitarian Information Bulletin, the numbers of Ivorian refugees registered in Liberia have fallen again after a verification exercise by UNHCR in Nimba county at the end of June, but there are still people arriving. Other verification exercises were ongoing in Grand Geddah county where 74,038 refugees were registered, and River Gee and Maryland counties where respectively 3,180 and 24,173 refugees were registered. Currently, It is estimated that there are currently nearly 145,000 refugees in Liberia

WFP and its partners have provided food assistance to 149,000 people, both refugees and members of host communities in Nimba, Grand Geddah, River Gee, and Maryland counties. By the end of June, FAO had carried out 65% of their planned distributions of rice seeds to these communities.

The rainy season has arrived in several countries in West Africa. While in some places the rains have caused localized tragedies, in general they haven’t caused any major flooding yet. However, the African Centre for Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD) has predicted the high probability of above average rains from July to September 2011 in many areas in West Africa, including western Chad, eastern Niger and northern Nigeria.

The need for clothing, mosquito nets and drinkable water has become more urgent, and there is also a greater risk of water-borne diseases. However, continuous rains have made it difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance to IDPs and refugees, especially in Liberia, in places where roads and bridges are in poor condition.

Following its first Ministerial Conference on humanitarian assistance and internal displacement in West Africa on 7 July, ECOWAS Ministers adopted a communiqué, calling upon its member states to sign, ratify and implement the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons, also known as the Kampala Convention, which was adopted in 2009.

The Convention is an important tool to ensure better protection and assistance for IDPs. The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria delivered a statement on behalf of USG Valerie Amos during last week’s Conference, underscoring her support for the Convention and also calling on African Member States to ratify and implement it. The ECOWAS Ministers committed to continue their partnership with all humanitarian actors and to ensure unhindered access to affected populations.

More>> OCHA Humanitarian Information Bulletin , June 2011 (French)

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