GENEVA (19 January 2017) – The new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, today expressed dismay at the bombing of a camp housing internally displaced persons in Borno state in the troubled northeast region of Nigeria, in which a counter insurgency against Boko Haram is being waged.
Initial reports from the Government-run IDP camp in Rann, near the borders with Cameroon and Chad, state that over 50 people had been killed in the incident, described by officials as an ‘operational mistake’, and more than 200 injured, with the death toll including several humanitarian workers and expected to rise in the coming days.
“This tragedy should never have happened and brings into stark focus the perilous situation that many internally displaced persons continue to experience in this region of Nigeria,” the human rights expert said. “The safety of IDPs must be guaranteed.”
“It is imperative that those affected have immediate lifesaving assistance, medical care or be evacuated without delay, as well as access to food and water and all other necessary assistance and support,” she stressed.
The Special Rapporteur also called for a full investigation into the incident and the adoption of urgent measures “to ensure the future safety of those IDPs and other communities remaining in the area, including consideration of their evacuation to safe locations if necessary.”
The expert described as troubling indications that humanitarian actors may not have had full access to the area for months, in order to assess the humanitarian and protection situation in a region deeply affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and counter-insurgency measures.
“I urge the Government to ensure full and unhindered access to humanitarian organisations to the region and all locations in which IDPs and other vulnerable civilian populations are living,” she said, while acknowledging security concerns.
Ms. Jimenez-Damary emphasized that the Government of Nigeria has the primary responsibility to protect internally displaced persons, who are among the most vulnerable, in line with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
The Special Rapporteur, whose predecessor, Chaloka Beyani, and also highlighted his concern about the situation of thousands of IDPs when he visited the region in August 2016, offered her support to the Government to help improve its responses to the displacement crisis, and urged it to work in full cooperation with its international partners to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect IDPs.
While noting the expressions of regret by the Government of Nigeria, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Ms. Jimenez-Damary, conveyed her deep sadness at the loss of life.
Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary (Philippines) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the Human Rights Council in 2016. Ms. Jimenez-Damary is a human rights lawyer specialised in forced displacement and migration. She has held high-level positions with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Geneva, the IDP Project of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, and the Philippine Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page: Nigeria
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