PUBLIC Services International (PSI) and other stakeholders in disaster management have expressed concern that while Nigeria continues to struggle with internal displacement caused by conflicts and violence, the onset of climate related disasters has led to more displacement.
The global union also noted that climate related disasters are exacerbating the suffering and hardships of affected communities, particularly the poor who are the most vulnerable.
This was part of resolutions reached at the end of a two-day workshop held in Abuja with the theme, “From Conflict Displacement to Climate Displacement.”
The resolution was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the workshop attended by 60 participants representing all PSI affiliates in Nigeria, the Nigeria Labour Congress, civil society partners, experts, government agencies and leaders of the IDP communities in Abuja.
The participants noted that figures from over the last decade showed that across the country, the number of people internally displaced by disasters (6.1 million) has far exceeded the number of those displaced by conflict and violence (4.1 million) as of the end of 2021.
Participants at the workshop therefore urged the government to provide durable and sustainable solutions to internal displacement in Nigeria, adding that these solutions must be human rights-based, gender-responsive, put people and the environment over profit, ensure social dialogue through the participation of workers and their unions, and consultations with civil society and stakeholders, most especially the IDPs themselves.
The stakeholders also expressed concern that the Nigerian government has downplayed the real impact of climate disaster by not presenting the full picture of the damage while falling short in its efforts to address the crisis.
They cautioned that slow government response to reverse the impact of this calamity would further exacerbate loss of livelihood, food insecurity and deprivation of access to essential public services.
The communiqué reads in part, “Participants call on the government to focus more on renewable energy along with just and socially responsible transition, and implement mitigation and adaptation measures, including reforestation programmes across the country.
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“As part of the durable solution, IDPs should be returned to their ancestral homes in a dignified, sustainable and safe way as provided for in the National IDP Policy. Towards this, the full implementation of the policy needs to be given prompt attention, along with the development of its legal framework based on international human rights norms and labour standards.
“Many IDPs may risk not voting as a result of displacement. Therefore, the government should protect and ensure that IDPs are able to exercise their political right to vote in the upcoming general elections in early 2023.”
“Recognising that conflict and climate are clearly linked and, if not mitigated, will cause more displacement in the coming years, we therefore call with urgency on all levels of government, civil society partners, the wider trade union movement and all stakeholders to work in concerted efforts to address the drivers and root causes of forced displacement from the perspective of climate justice, human rights and quality and inclusive public services.”
It would be recalled that the recent flooding disaster affected 33 of Nigeria’s 36 states, displaced over 1.4 million people and killed over 603 while 2,400 others were injured.