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Hope For Murambatsvina Victims as Harare Ratifies Displaced People's Convention

Its eight years now since the massive Murambatsvina clean-up exercise that left hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes in an operation that was criticized by the international community.

Now there’s hope that victims of the operation could get some assistance following parliament’s ratification of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons.

Amnesty International Zimbabwe director Cousin Zilala says the ratification of the convention, also known as the Kampala Convention, gives hope to survivors of operation Murambatsvina and other internally displaced persons that life can now improve.

Zilala says the government should implement, monitor and adhere to the provisions of the convention.

Zengeza lawmaker Collin Gwiyo says it not enough to ratify the convention. He adds government must take appropriate measures to ensure it benefits people on the ground.

Before its dissolution midnight Saturday parliament ratified the convention, the world’s first legally binding instrument to cater specifically for people displaced within their own countries.

Labor and Social Welfare Minister Paurina Mpariwa Gwanyanya says the convention aims to establish a legal framework for preventing internal displacement and protecting and assisting internally displaced persons.

More than 700,000 people were displaced during operation Murambatsvina in 2005. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Zimbabweans have also been displaced around the country due to projects such as mining ventures in the rich alluvial diamond fields in Marange.

About 10 million people have been displaced internally in Africa largely due to conflict and violence. There are almost four times as many internally displaced people as there are refugees on the continent.

Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons do not have special status under international law.

Although Zimbabwe had long signed the convention it was not legally bound by its contents because it had not ratified it.