Internal Displacement of Populations in Armed Conflicts
Recommendations made at the 10th joint seminar of the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The seminar was aimed at contributing to the current debate on the problematic of the internal displacement in Africa with a clear focus on armed conflict and other situations of violence.
The participants of the 10th Joint African Union (AU)/ICRC Seminar that took place on the 27th May 2008 at the AU Conference Centre, on the subject of Internal Displacement of Populations in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence expressed deep concern for the plight of civilians suffering the consequences of armed conflict and displacement due to armed conflict. The seminar considered in detail the legal framework, the mandate of institutions working on behalf of IDPs, the best way to support and preserve the independent capacity of IDPs while addressing the operational response to the protection and assistance needs of internally displaced persons.
The following recommendations were made:
1. That the international, regional and national legal framework should be at the heart of any political and operational solution to the plight of individuals affected by internal displacement, including the communities who host internally displaced persons.
2. That prevention is by far the best mean of addressing the problems of displacement and stressed the importance for Member States of the African Union to take measures to better achieve this aim.
3. That forced displacement of people be avoided according to international law, unless imperative military reasons or the protection of the civilians themselves so demands.
4. That the future AU Convention on the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons in Africa maintains a nd reinforces existing standards of International Law relevant for internal displacement is important.
5. That the parties to the conflict bear primary responsibility for dealing with problems resulting from internal displacement and for ensuring that IDP's are protected and assisted since the majority of those displaced are citizens of the territory within which they are displaced.
6. That the plight of internally displaced persons be considered in relation to the larger affected population, while recognising that the displaced have particular and urgent humanitarian and protection needs, and that their displacement has potentially severe implications for the populations that receive them. Member States of the African Union and other humanitarian actors should therefore respond to displacement in a holistic manner that meets both the urgent needs of the displaced as well as those who receive them.
7. That all response in favour of displaced persons be determined according to assessed needs, and that all needs assessments examine both protection and assistance needs in order to ensure that appropriate responses can be developed according to the specific needs identified.
8. That, because of the magnitude of the problem of internal displacement which cannot be addressed by any single organisation, an effective coordination, operational complementarities and strengthened response among actors in the field be emphasized to ensure a comprehensive response to the problem of internal displacement
9. That condition for sustainable return and reintegration, which include not only the necessary socio-economic measures but also a culture of respect for the rights of civilians under IHL and Human Rights Law be created.
In conclusion, the seminar expresse d the wish for these recommendations to be conveyed to the Heads of States and Governments at the AU special Summit that will take place end 2008 for their consideration through the PRC Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons.