One of Norway’s prime concerns, often voiced in humanitarian fora, is the protection of internally displaced people. Unfortunately the number of IDPs globally seems to grow year by year.
Since IDPs have much weaker legal rights than refugees and stateless people, it is of utmost importance that the international community, including UNHCR, intervene to protect them.
A positive development, in this respect is the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, adopted in Kampala 23 October.
As the first legally binding international instrument on internal displacement, the Convention provides a comprehensive regional framework governing the protection and assistance of IDPs - before, during and after displacement.
Norway encourages all AU member states to sign and ratify the convention, and implement it nationally. Norway is prepared to support this process, as we have done so far. We call on other donor countries to do the same.
We also wish to use of this opportunity to thank the High Commissioner for his strong commitment in this respect.
It is estimated that nearly 10 million people – over 60 percent of the world’s refugees – have been displaced for more than five years. Approximately eight million have lived as refugees for more than a decade.
These people typically live in camps, under harsh conditions, deprived of the rights most of us take for granted; the freedom to move, to work, to shape their own future.
They are trapped in Protracted Refugee Situations, being kept passive and thus not able to show their added value to society. They need not only more attention, but our protection.
Norway appreciates the important discussion that took place at High Commissioners Dialogue on Protection Challenges last year. We support the efforts to reach a conclusion on Protracted Refugee Situations this year, albeit not ready for adoption by the Executive Committee last month.
It is our hope and conviction that it is possible to arrive at a consensus at the talks still taking place in Geneva.
The High commissioner should, anyhow continue to take the lead and raise the issue with member states, affected states and populations as well as with development actors.