The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Nigeria Bar Association have inaugurated a free legal and counselling services programme for Internally Displaced Persons affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
This information was contained in a statement by the Senior External Relations Officer of UNHCR, Francis Garriba, on Friday in Abuja.
The inauguration of the project, entitled: “Legal protection for IDPs”, took place in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The Chairman, Borno State branch of NBA, Baba Kura Kaka, said the project was borne out of the reflection that IDPs “do not only require shelter, water, food, health and sanitation, which humanitarian bodies and other stakeholders are already providing, but also legal protection and counselling.”
He said, “Lawyers in Borno State, therefore came up with this project to enable them contribute their own quota to the protection efforts towards making the lives of IDPs better.
“We were challenged mainly by the fact that we saw doctors rendering medical assistance; psychologists providing psycho-social services and counselling to trauma victims; and engineers drilling boreholes and building shelters for IDPs in the camps. We, therefore, felt that since IDPs in Borno in particular and the North-East in general are facing a myriad of legal challenges, lawyers, too, could come to their aid in this respect.”
According to him, IDPs face legal challenges such as court litigation, police cases, family legal issues, such as divorce, inheritance, issues of next of kin, and the permanent address in case of serving them court injunction.
The NBA said it was imperative for lawyers assigned to handle particular legal duties to do their job conscientiously and in the interest of the vulnerable IDPs, and not for their ego.
An expert on sexual and gender-based violence and UNHCR Protection Officer, Rehema Miiro, said humanitarian actors were already doing a lot.