NGO Statement on Africa
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE
HIGH COMMISSIONER’S PROGRAMME
13 – 15 March 2012
Agenda Item 3. a) i.
This statement has been drafted in consultation with, and is delivered on behalf of, a wide range of NGOs and attempts to reflect the diversity of views within the NGO community.
NGOs note with appreciation that ten African States have pledged to ratify and/or incorporate into national law the Kampala Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. NGOs are also heartened that thirteen African States have taken the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Statelessness Convention to consider accession to this important instrument. We encourage these States to follow through with their pledges and others to follow suit.
While the severe drought was the main cause of population displacement between May and September 2011, since October 2011 the escalating conflict in South Central Somalia has become the primary reason for forced displacement. In January 2012 alone, UNHCR’s Population Movement Tracking system reported more than 19,000 Somalis displaced due to insecurity, most of them coming from the areas witnessing clashes between the conflicting parties. Many of the newly internally displaced people (IDPs) are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, but access remains problematic. At 1.36 million IDPs, Somalia now has the third highest displaced population in Africa.
Military interventions, which have been partly premised on the need to improve the protection of civilians, have in fact undermined it. Reports have stated that civilians are being directly targeted by conflicting parties, compromising the safety of civilians, as well as of aid delivery and aid workers.
NGOs urge all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure that military action does not lead to a further reduction of an already limited humanitarian access. NGOs would also like to remind all parties, and in particular Kenya and Ethiopia, that the right of refugees to seek and obtain asylum, including the full respect for the principle of non-refoulement under international refugee law, must be fully respected.
Furthermore, to avoid that this new caseload of Somali refugees get trapped into a protracted situation like the other Somali refugees that have been living in Dadaab for ten years or more, we urge all ExCom members to support a constructive dialogue with relevant regional and donor governments to identify durable solutions for these Somali refugees, prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable.