A new pact signed in Nairobi recently by the Great Lakes countries of Africa aims to protect and assist the displaced in the region. This is the first legally binding regional instrument specifically dealing with internally displaced persons.
The pact signed by the three lake countries--Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda--obliges them to protect, help and find solutions for internally displaced persons and refugees, and the communities that host them. The pact also aims at following international laws and conventions on the treatment of refugees and stateless people. The Great Lakes region has an estimated 9.5 million internally displaced persons and nearly two million refugees.
The pact also includes protocols on the prevention and suppression of sexual violence and a campaign to combat hiv/aids. "The pact is not just a vision; it is a programme of action. Millions of people--women, youth, refugees, displaced persons and others--are watching you and watching us, and are awaiting concrete benefits," said un secretary-general Kofi Annan.
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