Update on Global Rights Nigeria Three Day Workshop on The Rights of Civilians in Armed Conflicts Holding in Abuja

Global Rights Nigeria
Global Rights Nigeria, a human rights organization founded on the ideals of a just society for all built on the universal principles of human rights and guaranteed by access to justice, holds a 3 - Day workshop on “The Rights of Civilians in Armed Conflicts” to sensitize stakeholders on the duties of parties to conflicts and to work with them to develop systematic approaches for confronting the practice gaps in protecting the rights of citizens.

In recent times, both the nature and extent of human rights violations have significantly worsened in North-East, Middle-Belt and South-South Nigeria concurrent with rising insecurity and violence. Most of these violations play out in the theater of the on-going insurgency and the counter-terrorism operations of security forces, with limited opportunities for redress for victims. In this militarized situation, there is little state accountability and vulnerable populations have become victims of indiscriminate attacks by both the military and insurgents, who act without adherence to the norms of the standards care for civilians.

In order for violent threats to the human rights of vulnerable citizens resulting from
compounded insecurity in Nigeria to be mitigated, key institutions, oversight bodies and the demand-side of justice must be strengthened. Accountability processes and legislation must become functional to serve as effective checks. It’s in view of these pockets of violence spread across Nigeria that Global Rights put together this workshop.
Global Rights Nigeria

Speaking on the Day 1 of the workshop is Hadjya Hamsatu A. Allamin - Regional Manager/Conflict Analyst, Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP) North East on what is titled “Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Women in Armed Conflict”

Below is a copy of her presentation:

Even though marginalization of women and lack of deliberate efforts to protect us is a global phenomenon , the situation in North Eastern Nigeria, especially the epicentre of the JAS insurgency is quite alarming as the humanitarian catastrophe generated by the  insurgency and counter terrorism operation continuous without an end in sight.

Culturally we are marginalized and denied participation even in matters that affect us in the communities, and society generally undermine women’s adequate and effective representation in all spheres, especially conflict management processes.

Women are prevented from  attending school or seeking knowledge; girl-children fare withdrawn from school; and used  for street hawking; street  begging, menial/domestic workers,  undergoing forced and early marriage with consequent early divorce; with lack of adequate provision; in all its ramifications, and live with physical, mental and psychological  traumas.; and unequal treatment of girl children  even by the parent

Current Trends
Today, the North East geopolitical zone is the most disadvantaged region of Nigeria, with the highest levels of illiteracy, disease, poverty and insecurity and consequent human rights violations and abuses that are generally higher than in other region of the country. 
It is therefore not surprising to see the region engulfed in various conflicts with consequent human rights violation and abuse that have negatively impacted on the lives of the people with the women being the most affected.

Consequent upon this is the lack of voice in the region and very low capacity of CSOs particularly in peace building initiatives, hence not much is reported, as people fear reprisals  and victimization from both state and non-state actors.
After a High Level Emergency Round-Table meeting on Nutrition Crisis in Borno in June, the joint press briefing by SMOH and FMOH, in presence of Humanitarian actors confirmed that that there are about 2.4 million IDPs in the NE. About 2million (85%) are in Borno and only 9% are in the IDP camps, the remaining 90% in host communities.

The recent upsurge in Military operations had brought an unprecedented influx of previously trapped population from out of reach to any form of services  (communication, health and basic human needs for up to 5 years in some cases), to designated camps, host communities, thus additional satellite camps were still springing up.

As at June, there are 22 additional satellite camps spread over eight LGAs – Bama, Dikwa, Monguno, Kukawa, Gwoza, Damboa, Mafa, Ngala and even spill over into Niger Republic (little or nothing at all are known about condition of the inhabitants)
They come with wide variety of problems that include health challenges, malnutrition, epidemic/child killer diseases, diarrhea trauma and psycho-social conditions  

GBV in the NE: Emerging trends
While the war against terror intensifies:
Abducting of women and girls still continuous to date, and without being reported.
Public schools are still not operating to the detriment of particularly girls and mothers who have to content with idle kids
Humanitarian situation is still deteriorating in spite of heavy presence of humanitarian actors:-

Report of Round II of Vulnerability Screening, conducted in the six North Eastern States by the Protection Sector Working Group (PSWG) rereleased last month revealed that:

33% of vulnerable IDPs are children with specific protection needs, including 7,223 unaccompanied and separated children,
25% of vulnerable IDPs are women and girls with specific protection needs, including 6,535 SGBV survivors (3,823 early/forced marriage, 1,538 engaging in survival sex and 1,174 rape or other sexual assault),
27% of vulnerable IDPs report a serious medical condition or disability,
8% of vulnerable IDPs are elderly with protection needs, 3% of vulnerable IDPs report forced recruitment by armed groups,
3% of vulnerable IDPs report incidents of arbitrary arrest or detention,
72% of vulnerable households (HHs) lack sufficient livelihood,
56% of vulnerable households lack legal documentation,
22% of vulnerable HHs report discrimination in access to basic services, based upon IDP status, religion, disability, ethnicity or gender,
14% of vulnerable HHs report imminent fears for their safety, including fears of destruction of property, killing of civilians, abduction, presence of armed actors and/ or illegal detention

Emerging Trends:

Situation of women  (who are survivors of rape, forced marriages and abduction has reached a  scope beyond human imagination as many of our sisters come back pregnant, and with babies.
They were secluded into a corners in the IDP camps because they are rejected, stigmatise and labeled as “Epidemics – Annoba”,
 Therefore, what hope/future  is there for  the Children of these circumstances who are in thousands.

Despite the insecurity  of lack of safe accessibility and reported security incidents, Monguno (about 140kms from Maiduguri) seem to be the safe heaven for 1000s of IDPs from all over Northern Borno where recent assessment by Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) in June reported magnitude of human sufferings thus: 
a measure of rice costs 1000 to 3000 Naira (depending on quality, compared to 800 in Maiduguri) and a liter of petrol costs N300, and the few available medicine are sold on the street

 Most children are practically naked, most of them starved, while the adults (mostly women) wore signs of fatigue, starvation, frustration and sufferings.
Their major needs are basic  - food and shelter (they live without roofs over their heads with rains, exposed to all types of infection) , and above all, access to manageable drinking water

Overview of UNSCR 1325 & Foundation for its  Implementation
What is it?
In 2000, the United Nations Security Council created Resolution 1325 as a landmark international legal framework that addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace
Why 1325?
UNSC acknowledged the changing nature of warfare, in which civilians are increasingly targeted, and women continue to be excluded from participation in peace processes
Why Women?
The experiences of men and women in war are different. In these differences, women offer a vital perspective in the analysis of conflict as well as providing strategies toward peacebuilding that focus on creating ties across opposing factions and increasing the inclusiveness, transparency, and sustainability of peace processes.
The Five Pillars OF UNSCR 1325:
1325 has five “pillars” that support the goals of the Resolution, which are:
Participation -
      calls for increased participation of women at all levels of decision-making, including  in national, regional, and international institutions; in mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict; in peace negotiations; in peace operations, as soldiers, police, and civilians; and as Special Representatives of the U.N. Secretary-Genera,
      specifically of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence, including in emergency and humanitarian situations, such as in refugee camps
      calls for improving intervention strategies in the prevention of violence against women, including by prosecuting those responsible for violations of international law;
Promotion –
      specifically of particularly  of women led initiatives and and activities
Prosecution –
       of perpetrators of VAWG and strengthening women’s rights under national law; and supporting local women’s peace initiatives and conflict resolution processes

Effective Prevention and Monitoring Strategies
More than seventeen years after the passage of UNSCR 1325, there is widespread concern that progress made at the normative and policy levels has not been translated into significant improvements in the lives of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict countries:

In the areas of Protection, two main strategies are proposed: - Mobilisation Strategy (COMS) and the Individual Case Management System (ICMS).
These are  Community Based Approaches that demands
understanding of the political context,  the receiving population, gender roles, community dynamics, protection risks, - concerns and priorities.  Since external actors have only a facilitation role due to limited  capacities, resources, the temporary nature of their presence and demand for long term  impact of the interventions,

 Governments, at all levels, national  NGOs, local CSOs and activists must take responsibility (as duty bearers) to ensure that all people of concern, regardless of age, gender or diversity, can fully enjoy their rights.
To effectively do this INGOs and the International Community (while focusing on provision for immediate  basic needs of the depressed people of the North East), should at the same time

Shift  (in relatively safe areas) from individual service delivery to community and rights perspective  to build trust and confidence  and Empower the communities and individuals to advocate for their rights ( know their rights and how to claim them)