Internal Displacement in West Africa: A Snapshot

Ferris, E., Stark, C.
Publication language
Date published
01 Jan 2012
Research, reports and studies
Forced displacement and migration, Urban
The Brookings Institution

On 7 July 2011, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convened its first Ministerial Conference On Humanitarian Assistance And Internal Displacement In West Africa in Abuja, Nigeria. ECOWAS members have long been in the forefront of African efforts to develop normative frameworks on internal displacement and this conference was intended to increase understanding and support for the watershed African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention). To support ECOWAS efforts in this regard, the Brookings-LSE Project prepared a background paper which surveyed internal displacement in West Africa and discussed the implications for national governments of ratifying the Kampala Convention, which 11 of the 15 ECOWAS Member States have signed to date. Given continuing—and unfortunately new—displacement in the region since the ECOWAS summit, it seemed timely to update and disseminate an excerpt from the original background paper.

This paper thus offers an overview of internal displacement in the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) region—which consists of 15 countries as presented in the map below—including displacement resulting from conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations; natural disasters and the effects of climate change; and development projects. The analysis includes a discussion of the protection concerns around particular internal displacement situations, an assessment of efforts to find durable solutions to displacement and a brief summary of laws and policies adopted by governments in the region.