Red Cross urges ECOWAS to address humanitarian needs in member states

Abuja, March 4, 2017 (TNE): The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has urged ECOWAS to adopt a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to address humanitarian needs in member states.

Ms Eloi Fillion, Head of Delegation of the ICRC said this at the ECOWAS-ICRC briefing for ambassadors from member states and donor countries on the Implementation of Humanitarian Laws (IHL) in West Africa on Friday.

Fillion said that humanitarian needs resulting from armed conflicts and other violent crises in the sub-region required significant efforts from all relevant stakeholders.

The ICRC head of delegation, however commended the efforts made by the sub-regional bloc in signing and ratifying various international humanitarian laws adding that additional steps were needed to ensure respect for IHL

She said: ”The International Humanitarian Law is a body of law, of international treaties and when we are looking at implementation, we have to look at the implementation of an integration of respective treaties.

”In the ECOWAS region, there has been some significant efforts made and most of the countries have indeed ratified or at least signed the main conventions.

”If you look for example, the Convention of Cluster Munitions, 11 countries have signed today; the ECOWAS Convention on Small Weapons 14 countries, the same for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

”These are important achievements but we cannot stop here; there is still work to continue, there are still challenges ahead of us and this is what we are jointly with ECOWAS Commission, putting our efforts towards.

She explained that political will from governments in all member states was pertinent to ensure relevant stakeholders were aware of and complied with their obligations.

Director, ECOWAS Directorate of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Mrs Florence Iheme,said that the meeting was aimed at presenting and reviewing the ECOWAS-ICRC joint report on IHL.

Iheme said the report, published in Dec. 2016 was to measure the status of ratification, domestication and implementation of IHL treaties by member states.

”This is an opportunity to present it to ECOWAS member states as well as international partners that support both ICRC and ECOWAS in issues of IHL.

A programme officer in the Directorate of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Mr Olatunde Olayemi, further said that the ECOWAS in 2009, developed a plan of action for member states to accede to, domesticate and implement IHL.

”We have been doing this with the ICRC for 14 years to ensure that there is implementation of IHL in the various member states.

”What we have done in the last six, seven years has been to measure member states progressive compliance with these laws and the compliance is done in ratification, domestication, accession to domestication where required, depending on the legal system of the various countries.”

He added that countries were also encouraged to have national IHL commissions which serve as the national task forces responsible for monitoring and reporting back. (NAN)

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