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Thursday 6th December 2012 | 16:50
FCO Press Release
Foreign Office Minister commends African Union Leadership on Internally Displaced Persons
Commenting on the day that the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa came into force, UK Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds MP said:
"I welcome the entry into force today of the African Union's Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the first legally binding convention on IDPs. We face a severe challenge in responding to the needs of IDPs and reducing conflict and displacement, and I commend the leadership the African Union has shown on this issue. Millions of people across the globe have been driven from their homes by conflict and human rights violations. There are particularly high numbers of IDPs in Africa, including in the DRC, Sudan and the Sahel. I believe the Convention has the potential to play a vital role in galvanising efforts across Africa to prevent displacement, and to protect and assist people once displaced.
"The Convention contains a welcome focus on the need to protect all IDPs from sexual violence. IDPs are a frequent target for sexual and gender based violence, often in addition to having been subject to these crimes during the conflict which displaced them. These crimes are often regarded as an inevitable by-product of war, rather than an issue that the world can and must tackle together. We must shift the stigma and shame from the survivors of sexual violence, to the perpetrators of these appalling crimes. During our Presidency of the G8 next year the UK will strive to increase successful prosecutions for rape and sexual violence in conflict and to help deter future abuses. By working together, the international community can confront the culture of impunity for those who use rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and do much more to provide long term support to victims."