Intervention made by Mr. Amin Javed Faizal, Second Secretary, at the Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Third Committee, 20 October 2011
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As you are aware, the issues of displacement due to climate change and natural disasters are very close to the heart of the Maldives, and have been the primary emphasis of our current government’s domestic and international agenda. We, therefore, are especially grateful to Dr. Beyani for his visit to Maldives earlier this year, for the special focus of his report, and for all of his efforts in this particular area. We eagerly anticipate the report in March 2012 addressing the particular situation of low-lying island states such as the Maldives.
It is nearly impossible to exaggerate the seriousness and importance of this issue to Maldives and other similarly situated low-lying island and coastal states. For example, the 2004 tsunami destroyed many of our islands and affected two thirds of our population, either through direct displacement or through overcrowding on less-affected islands. This event acted as a strong wake up call for Maldives, highlighting exactly how unprepared we were to respond to sudden disasters and the resulting issue of IPDs. Full recovery from a tragedy of this magnitude is an extremely long and difficult process, and we continue to strive to return all of the IDPs within Maldives to permanent housing, working to provide homes for the 1600 people still residing in temporary shelters.
We welcome the recognition of the fact that while we are speaking of “internal” displacement, IDP is many times the result of external forces and has human rights impacts that are of international concern. As a small island nation, we have access to only a limited number of resources and a limited amount of space. Therefore, as more of our citizens are displaced, or additional portions of our country are made uninhabitable due to slow-onset climate change effects, we will be unable to provide for many of the basic human rights such as adequate food or shelter. We may then need to turn to the international community for assistance in meeting the needs of our citizens, and we therefore support the Special Rapporteur’s call for establishing a human rights-based framework focusing on the principles laid out in the report.
We would like to assure the Special Rapporteur that we are taking his recommendations under serious consideration. Maldives has endorsed a comprehensive Strategic National Action Plan that integrates Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Mitigation. We have also established the Disaster Management Centre Maldives which is committed to taking pro-active and timely measures to prevent or reduce the impact of disasters on the Maldivian people and economy, and continue to work to strengthen this institution. The Government understands the critical need for legislation that implements the Strategic National Action Plan, ensures proper funding for the relevant support institutions, and, most importantly, addresses the rights and needs of Internally Displaced Persons. We continue to work diligently to put a law of this sort in place very soon.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman