By Sanne Boswijk
From 17 to 19 April 2012, representatives from countries in the Horn of Africa gathered in Mombasa, Kenya, to review the legal lessons learned during the recent drought operations in the region.
The 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa generated support from all types of responders from the international community, including States, the UN system and NGOs. For example, more than 300 separate agencies are reporting on their funding and/or response activities on Reliefweb.
The event, which was co-hosted by UN OCHA, IFRC and the Kenya Red Cross Society, hosted senior government representatives and national society officials from ten countries, amongst others Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya. During the three days, the delegations assessed their domestic legal framework for the receipt and transit of humanitarian relief.
Ms. Muthoni Kimani, of the Kenyan Attorney General’s Office, kicked off the discussions in her keynote address by pointing out that: “There is a real need for a legal tool to address the problems coming up in disaster response operations, not only in the Horn of Africa, but globally.” She urged the participating countries to aim for real and pragmatic outcomes.
Consequently, the delegations developed concrete ideas to further the development of training, policy and/or legislation in their countries and to address, where necessary, the challenges faced at the domestic level. In cooperation with representatives from the African Union and IGAD, the participants evaluated the need and feasibility of a regional tool in the Horn to facilitate and regulate humanitarian assistance. Because, in the words of Yufnalis Okubo, legal counsel for IGAD, “a disaster doesn’t need a visa to cross borders”.
The proceedings and outcomes of the event will be consolidated into a report which will be made available on www.ifrc.org/dl.
Please click here for a list of the speakers and their presentations at the workshop.