By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are typically persons who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of violence, natural or human-made disasters. However, managing internal displacement in Nigeria has been said to be marked with poor coordination, weak policy and institutional framework as well as poor knowledge of existing draft national policy.
This was the crux of the 4th in the series of Media/Civil Society meetings on Internal Displacement in Nigeria by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre(CISLAC) in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency and the Swiss Embassy whereby they intensified the call on the Federal government to adopt the Draft National Policy on Internal displacement in Nigeria.
In his welcome address at the meeting,the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) Auwal Ibrahim Musa noted that issues of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) continue to create problems in Nigeria and solutions are not yet found as there is no legislative framework to tackle the issues.
The Executive Director who was represented by the Senior Program Officer, CISLAC Mr. Okeke Anya said that it is important for people to keep talking as the government tend to go to sleep when the people lose their voices.
According to him, “We continue to give voice to put IDP issues on the front burner of discussions. The election year is here and the welfare of the IDPs might be taken for granted. There is need to create a situation where IDP does not occur at all”.
Giving a brief review of CISLAC’s activities from November 2016 to date, the Program Officer, Mr. Austin Erameh stated that CISLAC has the mandate to ensure that legislative and policy framework needed to facilitate the smooth running of government are in place.
He further noted that when the CSOs as first responders to issues, share their experiences with the media, it will help for effective reportage, adding that the intervention so far has been rewarding.
He said, “What we have achieved is to begin to gradually capacitate media practitioners to understand the concept that partains specifically to humanitarian interventions, we have ensured that they identify and report efficiently on humanitarian assistance.The work we do should be able to translate into a result and the result should address the issues of those that are victims of conflicts”.
Erameh stated also that implementation of the draft is a government led process and CSOs have done what they can do by drumming up their voices for the government to do the needful as he stressed that the onus remains on the government to ensure speedy adoption of the policy.
“The final stages is for government to agree that this document is a priority, it doesn’t speak very well of Nigeria as a country that inspite of the millions of people affected by insurgency in just the North East let alone the entire gamut of forced displacement that also occur during the flooding and also communal clashes that we see every day, that the country still lacks any holistic law or policy that attempts to address the issues of internal displacement in the country”
He emphatically called on the Federal Government to as a matter of priority, ensure that it speedily adopts the Draft National Policy on Internal Displacement.
Also, the Senior Program Officer, CISLAC, Okeke Anya explained that the Draft National Policy looks at the rights of the IDPS, responsibilities, role of host communities, issues of armed groups when dealing with IDPs and also talks about how to find durable solutions for them.
Fielding questions from Journalists on the achievement of the previous series of the engagement, he said that it has achieved a lot. “the national policy on IDP was almost put in a cooler but today, the policy has been revised, revalidated and has gotten to the Federal Executive Council. When we started, there was no proposed legislation to amend the National Convention for Refugee Acts but today that act has passed first and second reading, has gone for public hearing and is now at the committee stage”.
Speaking further on the media Toolkit disseminated to participants, he noted that the toolkit will help the media fully engage and get background information and to come up with an informed position in terms of the issues around internal displacement.
“It will be effective if the media study and ask questions where there is a necessity, to help bolster the work CISLAC is doing around getting a legal and policy framework for the IDPs. I urge the media to read the tool kit, ask questions and get clarifications”. He said.
While stating that more knowledge has been built for the media in terms of understanding issues on IDP, he added that all that is needed is to fast tract the efforts that have been put in place to ensure that things get done.
A report by CISLAC showed that the number of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria in 2015 is over four million. Also, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) August 2015 Data Tracking Matrix(DTM) showed that in the North East of Nigeria alone, there about 2.2 million IDPs on account of insurgency occasioned by the menace of Boko Haram.