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Helping Internally Displaced Persons in ECOWAS

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The outcome of a recent study done by ECOWAS Commission on crises in three member countries reinforces the regional body’s commitment to assisting internally displaced persons

By Maureen Chigbo  |  Jun. 16, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

THE outcome of a recent study on crises in three countries in the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has given a new insight on how to handle internally displaced people in the region. The study, which was conducted by the ECOWAS Commission in Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Nigeria, was done in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR. The study was funded by the Finish government.

Entitled: “Responsibility to Respond to Internal Displacement in the ECOWAS Region: Case Studies of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Nigeria with particular emphasis on the Assessment Methodology,” the outcome of the study prompted the ECOWAS to pledge to continue to discharge its commitment to internally displaced persons, IDP’s, who are victims of the various crises in the region.

Fatima Dia Sow, ECOWAS commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, said the study would facilitate the examination and understanding of internal displacement in the region as well as determine the applicable legal, policy and institutional benchmarks for enabling member states respond to these issues. The study which is consistent with the ECOWAS Humanitarian Policy and Plan of Action, provides 15 broad recommendations to ECOWAS member states, the ECOWAS Commission, the UNHCR and all strategic partners. It contains 12 benchmarks for action on Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, protection and assistance in member states which are compatible with the Kampala Convention and the ECOWAS policy.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, in Abuja on Friday, May 30, the commissioner, who was represented by Daniel Eklu, director of Humanitarian Affairs, expressed gratitude to the UNHCR and Finland for their contributions to the study and praised Muhammed Tawfik Ladan for the leadership role he provided in preparing the study.

Angele Dikogue-Atangana, UNHCR representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said that the UNHRC-ECOWAS collaboration for the study was motivated by the need to provide a baseline for determining the extent, nature and policy environment of internal displacement in selected ECOWAS countries including the three countries. She challenged member states to draw impetus from the study to sign, ratify, domesticate and implement the Kampala Convention.

Ritta Korpivaara, ambassador of Finland to Nigeria and ECOWAS, in her speech expressed delight at the judicious use of the fund provided by her government, stressing the need to do more to reflect the increase in internally displaced persons in Nigeria.

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