ECOWAS, Red Cross move to protect civilians during conflicts
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have validated an action plan on the implementation of International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) 2019-2023 at a consultative meeting in Abuja.
The move seeks to ensure that globally accepted laws are observed during armed conflict in West Africa, thereby protecting the fundamental human rights of the citizens.
Consequently, information is to be disseminated to security agencies and armed forces of member states as well as sensitizing civil society and non-governmental organizations, the judiciary and also including the laws in the curricula of schools.
Addressing the participants at the weekend, the Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, stated that the action had become imperative in view of the catastrophic effects of conflicts in the sub-region.
She noted that the validation of the plan of action and its implementation would help in achieving the human security vision of the commission as captured in the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework.
Jagne informed the participants that the document would be presented to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers for adoption and onward transmission to the Authority of Heads of States and Government for approval.
“The Plan of Action will serve as a basis for political and legal accountability for all of West Africa,” she said.
Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, Ambassador Babatunde Nurudeen, highlighted the key components of the policy, including protection of children, eradication of sexual violence, migration and welfare of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Others are protection of health care and Red Cross emblem as well as counter-terrorism and arms control.
The Head of the ICRC delegation to ECOWAS, Eloi Fillion, reaffirmed the commitment his organisation to providing technical assistance to member states.
Similarly, the representative of the Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Udo Oyi, pledged support to the implementation of the document.
He noted that though the nation was contending with cases of terrorism, it is, however, committed to respect for human rights.