UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes Ethiopia’s ratification yesterday of the African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention.
The Convention, a key regional legal instrument aimed at protecting, assisting and resolving the plight of IDPs, was unanimously passed by Ethiopia’s parliament.
This represents a significant achievement for a country that has had to recently manage massive internal displacement within its borders.
“The ratification of this Convention underscores the Government’s concern and attention to the large number of people who are displaced, whether as a result of conflict or changing climatic conditions,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Ethiopia, Ann Encontre.
“UNHCR welcomes the opportunity to support the Government in implementing the tenets of the Convention and honoring its commitments, including through the development of a national action plan for IDPs”.
Ethiopia is the 31st African Union Member State to ratify the Convention since its adoption in 2009. It will now take effect domestically after the country’s President signs it into law within a few weeks.
The Kampala Convention is the world’s first and only regional legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of IDPs, who often face heightened risks of sexual and other violence during their displacement, while they struggle to access their basic rights.
Cut off from their usual support networks and livelihoods, many IDPs find themselves in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Ethiopia has one of the world’s largest IDP populations, estimated to be 1.78 million individuals, according to the 2020 UN Humanitarian Response Plan.
UNHCR is part of the inter-agency humanitarian effort in Ethiopia to assist those displaced by conflict and climate shocks and has been encouraging the Government to ratify the Convention.
UNHCR is also supporting national authorities in the drafting of an IDP Policy which will provide a domestic legal framework for the protection of and assistance to IDPs.
Following the Government-led large-scale IDP return operation last year, UNHCR has been supporting reintegration and recovery efforts for displacement affected Ethiopians, including returnees and vulnerable host communities.