Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - ECOWAS Ministers in charge of humanitarian affairs have resolved to set up a Task Force of Government Ministries, relevant partners and civil society to coordinate the implementation of the African Union (AU) Convention on humanitarian assistance and internal displacement in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention.
At the end of their first Ministerial Conference on Humanitarian Assistance and Internal Displacement in West Africa, held 7 July 2011 at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the ministers also agreed to formulate coherent national IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) policies, legal and institutional frameworks that will fully reflect the content and the spirit of the Kampala Convention.
They further committed to encouraging the adoption of the Kampala Convention into the Community Law of ECOWAS, the ECOWAS Commission said in a statement here Tuesday
The Kampala Convention, which was adopted by African leaders in 2009 to address the problems of humanitarian assistance and internal displacement on the continent, requires 15 ratifications to go into force.
The conference noted that 32 AU Member States had signed the Convention while 12, including five ECOWAS Member States - namely the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone and Togo – had ratified the text.
While commending those countries that have signed and ratified the document, the ministers urged others yet to do so to ratify without further delay.
The conference also appealed to the AU and ECOWAS Commissions to support all actions taken at the national level to promote the signature, domestication and the implementation of the AU Convention.
It further called on all ECOWAS Member States to sign and ratify treaties, conventions and covenants relating to human rights, refugees and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts as well as the prevention of large scale arbitrary population displacement.
The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the partnership between the international community and governments in the ECOWAS region in the provision of humanitarian assistance, protection and finding durable solutions for IDPs, refugees and returnees.
They also pledged to ensure coordinated and unfettered access of humanitarian actors to affected populations in need; to grant them full access to all relevant information for their assistance and to the observance of the highest international standards in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to displaced persons.
In his message to the opening session, ECOWAS Chairman and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan called for a speedy ratification and domestication of the Kampala Convention by Member States.
The President represented by Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, Permanent Secretary in Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, stressed the need for the strengthening of “our democratic structures to ensure good governance as an antidote to political and economic marginalization, which breeds social and political convulsions in our communities.”
On his part, ECOWAS Commission President James Victor Gbeho, represented by Vice President Jean de Dieu Somda, recalled that ECOWAS Member States played a key role in the process that led to the adoption of the Kampala Convention, which he described as the first legal instrument on internal displacement with continental scope.
He said the Ministerial conference, organised in conjunction with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the AU and with support from the Government of Finland, was an ECOWAS initiative aimed at supporting the achievements of the Kampala Convention.
-0- PANA PR/SEG 12July2011