The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) has commended Somalia for signing a convention to protect internally displaced people (IDPs) in Africa.
Somalia’s announcement on Nov 26 makes it the 30th African country to sign the Kampala Convention.
Somalia has the fourth largest population of IDPs in the world.
This week, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed signed the Kampala convention that requires internally displaced persons be protected and given assistance in their daily struggles.
Somalia is the 30th country to ratify the deal, which was adopted in 2009 by all 55 African countries.
African IDPs face many risks to their safety and are often in need of humanitarian assistance.
Guelnoudji Ndjekounkosse is the U.N. refugee agency’s senior protection officer in Somalia. He says ratification will improve the welfare of Somalis who fled their homes.
“It helps to promote and strengthen regional, national measures to find a solution for displaced persons,” said Ndjekounkosse. “The second aspect is that the fact that the Kampala ratification established a legal framework to protect and assist properly the Somali displaced people and lastly I look at it from the angle of how it established a legal framework for solidarity, cooperation at a regional level.”
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 10 million people in Africa were displaced in 2018. Somalia accounted for 11 percent of that figure.
Somalia has long lacked a stable government. The fight against al-Shabab militants has led to more people fleeing their homes.
Ndjekuonkosse says reaching those Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance has been a problem for many aid agencies.
“So the same insecurity is affecting the internally displaced persons also affects humanitarian workers from all the sectors that are trying to intervene in the areas,” said Ndjekounkosse. “I think most significantly the government of Somalia is making the effort to ensure that humanitarian actors have access and to deliver the assistance and protection request from them.”
The ratification signed by the Somali government means it has to take measures to ensure the safety and tend to the long term needs of IDPs in the country.
Amnesty International researcher Abdullahi Hassan says Somalia has much to overcome to fulfill the commitment.
“As long as this conflict continues the situation of IDPs will be there so that’s one big challenge that Somalia needs to deal with the other thing is due to these climatic shocks we have seen in Somalia there has been constant famine and drought that hits Somalia very hard in the past few years. IDP situation is likely to be there for a long time and more IDPs will be created due to drought and continues conflict but that should not be an excuse for the government not to protect the rights and the livelihoods of the IDPs in the country,” said Hasan.
Two-point-six million Somalis are displaced, a number that could rise as the fight against al-Shabab rebels continues.