East African Regional Organization Holds First Conference on Internal Displacement

September 3, 2003

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) — a regional organization in East Africa comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda — convened its first conference on internal displacement in collaboration with The Brookings Institution-Johns Hopkins SAIS Project on Internal Displacement and the IDP Unit of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The conference was hosted by the Government of Sudan and held in Khartoum from 30-August to 2-September 2003.

An estimated 5.2 to 6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), one fifth of the global population of IDPs, are found in the IGAD region where they face critical humanitarian, protection and reintegration needs. The purpose of the meeting was to highlight the problem and develop more effective strategies for addressing the needs of IDPs in the region.

The conference began with a three-day meeting of experts who came from governments of the seven IGAD states, local and international non-governmental organizations, internally displaced persons communities, the African Union, the UN and other international organizations, research institutions, and donors. Among the recommendations made by the experts meeting were: (1) the development by IGAD member states of national policies on internal displacement using the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as a reference; (2) the development of regional strategies for internal displacement; and (3) the creation of a unit within the IGAD Secretariat to focus on forced displacement.

The seminar culminated in a Ministerial Conference which, in addition to adopting the recommendations of the experts meeting, issued the Khartoum Declaration on Internally Displaced Persons in the IGAD Sub-Region. The declaration sets out concrete steps for IGAD and its member states to take. It notes the Guiding Principles “as a useful tool for developing and evaluating national policies and legislation on internal displacement,” and calls for the establishment of a unit on forced displacement within the IGAD Secretariat, which would be tasked to collect data on displacement in the sub-region, disseminate the Guiding Principles, provide technical assistance to member states, and explore further sub-regional cooperation on displacement issues.

This publication contains the report of the experts meeting, related documents, and the Khartoum Declaration adopted by the IGAD Ministers.