Three years ago this week, the African Union brought into force a groundbreaking treaty – the Kampala Convention – that 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 AU’s 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.
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. The economic, social and structural violence women face from their families and communities – the denial of housing, land and property rights – is yet to be fully addressed in practice as a cause of displacement. Neither is it acknowledged as a source of continued destitution upon return.
For many displaced women, the physical, sexual, structural and social violence they experience lasts well beyond the signing of any peace agreements.
A briefing paper published today 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.
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 analyze data to monitor the impact of displacement on women
The French version is available here.
NRC and the Africa Union
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 email@example.com
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