ADDIS ABEBA – The United Nations refugee agency on Saturday hailed Ethiopian lawmakers’ decision to ratify a major convention of the African Union that addresses internal displacement caused by armed conflict and natural disasters.
The Ethiopian parliament unanimously passed the treaty known as the African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Africa.
The treaty, also known as the Kampala Convention, is a key regional legal instrument aimed at protecting, assisting and resolving the plight of IDPs,
This represents a significant achievement for a country that has had to recently manage massive internal displacement within its borders, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR.
Ann Encontre, UNHCR’s Representative in Addis Ababa, said the ratification underscores Ethiopia’s “concern and attention to a large number of people who are displaced, whether as a result of conflict or changing climatic conditions”.
“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 AU Member State to ratify the Convention since its adoption in 2009.
It will now take effect domestically when President Sahlework Zewde signs it into law within a few weeks.
The 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.
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.
The refugee agency has been encouraging the Government to ratify the Convention and is now supporting national authorities in the drafting of an IDP Policy which will provide a domestic legal framework for the protection of and assistance to Displaced People.