The African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa – more commonly known as The Kampala Convention obliges African governments to protect the rights of people who are forced to flee their homes by armed conflict, violence, human rights violations and disasters.
Although, 40 of the African Union's (AU) 54 member states have signed the convention, its implementation proceeds at a slow pace.
“Displaced persons across Africa are too often the victims of discrimination and abuse. They are frequently denied the “inherent rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs)” that the convention strives to protect,” says Yemisrach Kebede, NRC Resident Representative to the AU.
For the nearly six million women and girls displaced in Africa, the violations are particularly acute. Many experience discriminatory practices including the eviction of widows, and denial of inheritance and marital property rights. These practices disproportionally affect women and contribute to the cycle of violence continuing long after conflict ends.
Women in limbo
“The longer the security of these women and girls remains in limbo, the less able they are to protect and care for their families. Women who don’t know what the future holds are less likely to invest in their communities, which in turn makes them even more vulnerable. Implementing the Kampala Convention is a critical component of breaking this cycle of insecurity,” says Kebede.
A briefing paper published this week by NRC: 'The Kampala Convention: Make it work for women', aims to improve protection for displaced women and girls. It is based on NRC’s legal assistance (ICLA) programmes in South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic and Côte d’Ivoire; countries with some of the highest levels of internal displacement.
“This legally binding instrument has shown the remarkable resolve of the Continent’s leaders to put the issue of internally displaced people in the forefront of the planning structures at the national level as well as provide homegrown and durable solution to the plight of the vulnerable groups who are the most disadvantaged,” says Kebede.
NRC suggests four ways that African Union governments can promote the implementation of the Kampala Convention:
- Eliminate discriminatory and harmful practices, as defined in the convention, that displace women and prevent their return.
- Remove barriers that women face to access justice for housing, land and property rights.
- Take steps to support displaced women escape of the cycle of poverty.
- Gather and analyse data to monitor the impact of displacement on women.
NRC is working to enhance the capacity of the African Union to support the effective implementation of the Kampala Convention. This stems from our broad partnership focusing on responding to the needs of displaced people throughout the Continent, while working to document displacement related issues, and strengthening policy on the rights of the displaced.
For further information, please contact Ms. Yemisrach Kebede, Resident Representative to the AU at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NRC Publications on Displaced Women’s HLP rights in Africa:
Côte d’Ivoire – Displaced women’s rights to housing, land and property in post-conflict western Côte d’Ivoire, NRC, 2015.
Central African Republic – Consequences of Evicting Widows: Displacement and women’s housing, land and property rights in the Central African Republic, NRC, 2015.
Liberia – Violence Against Women and Housing, Land and Property in Monrovia, NRC, 2013.
South Sudan – Nowhere to Go: Displaced and Returnee Women Seeking Housing, Land and Property Rights in South Sudan, NRC, 2013