Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- African ministers in charge of forced displacemen ts kicked off a meeting here Friday to draw up a plan for the implementation of a landmark treaty signed in April 2009, during a special S ummit of African leaders on the protection of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) held in Kampala, Uganda.
The African ministers met amid concerns that issues of forced displacement of pe ople in the continent continued to take a back-seat in the ongoing discussions for post-conflict settlements.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day meeting of the ministers in charge of for ced displacements, African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs Julia Joiner said a plan for the implementation of the Kampala Refugee Conventio n was important for the protection of internal refugees.
''I have no doubt that you will join me in recognizing the importance of us agre eing to a viable and focused collective plan for the implementation of the outcomes of the special Summit,â? Joiner said.
Africa is home to half of the world's IDPs of some 25 million.
African leaders who met in Kampala during a special Summit of the AU, endorsed a n internal refugees protection plan, focusing on protecting IDPs, including victims of natural disasters.
Africa has lately witnessed an increase in the spate of natural disasters, inclu ding a landslide which killed as many as 100 people in Uganda this year.
Flash floods in various parts of the continent this year have also claimed thous ands of lives and displaced millions.
Experts said the victims of natural disasters are often neglected and aid comes little too late most of the time because the authorities lack various forms of disaster preparedness.
The IDP Convention adopted by the AU seeks to reverse the situation and ensure m ore reliable assistance to victims of natural disasters, conflicts and other forms of forced displacements.
â?Our expectation is that no group can stand on the margin and make the claim t hat we are big on commitments and small on action,â? Joiner challenged the ministers.
Only Uganda has ratified the IDP Convention, although some 17 African leaders si gned up to the treaty when it was approved during the Kampala Summit.
''The adoption of a Convention to look into the issue (forced displacement) is a meaningful act in itself.
We still need 15 ratifications for it to enter into force,'' the AU Commissioner told PANA on the sidelines of the meeting.
''The problem is that various countries have various processes of ratification.
Some need a cabinet approval, others need parliamentary approval and others must make domestic laws to complete the process of ratificat ion,'' the former Gambian civil servant said.