ABUJA – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said that it will continue to evolve solutions to the increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region.
Mr Muhammed Ladan, the Lead Regional Consultant for ECOWAS on study of displacement in the region, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
He said that the assurance was sequel to a recent study on the plight of IDPs in the region which was conducted in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
“ There is a phenomenon of false eviction that people are not only being displaced in the sub region because of violence or conflict or natural disaster.
“They are also being displaced and being rendered homeless by false eviction from their houses.
“Governments are bulldozing houses because they don’t have permit, they don’t have certificate of occupancy, they don’t have licenses to build, they demolish at times without notice.
“These are a new generation of displaced persons within their own countries, by their own government.
“ This particular study brought it out in order for us to have a trend and then master how to respond to this new trend.
“ The responsibility of the state in each member state is to also provide shelter and to also address the problem of poverty as one of the root causes of displacement.’’
Ladan said that if poverty, unemployment and shelter for all that are affordable and also accessible are not addressed, then the poor unemployed citizens must continue to build shanties.
He also said that when these shanties were demolished, the population would be rendered homeless; the constitutional responsibility to protect them and provide adequate shelter would not be discharged.
Ladan said that it became crucial for ECOWAS to find a lasting solution to IDPs in the region as the affected people were now running into their hundreds of thousands.
The study, which touched on the prevention, protection and assistance of IDPs in the region, would go a long way in solving displacement problem in West Africa, he said.
Ladan said that it would be possible as the findings from the three states where studies were conducted would be replicated in the remaining 12 ECOWAS member states.
He said the generation of reliable and useable data had been recognised and reported globally as a huge challenge in executing the project, especially for West Africa as a developing region.
He, however, said that a reliable and useable data would assist government and even international bodies to help member states in proper programme planning and programme implementation.
NAN reports that ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) jointly conducted the study to facilitate the examination and understanding of internally displaced persons in the region.
The study would help in determining the applicable legal policy and institutional benchmarks for enabling member states respond to these issues. (NAN)