Practice Relating to Rule 131. Treatment of Displaced Persons
Section A. Provision of basic necessities
Djibouti’s Manual on International Humanitarian Law (2004) states: “All feasible measures must be taken to ensure that the civilian population is received under satisfactory conditions regarding shelter, health, hygiene, security, food and drink.”
Djibouti’s Decree Establishing an Emergency Unit to Coordinate Assistance to Refugees from Yemen (2015) provides:
Article 1: An Emergency Unit is hereby established under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to coordinate and monitor the situation of refugees from Yemen.
Article 3: The primary mission of this unit is to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing the conflict in Yemen. Indeed, the objective of this emergency unit is to evaluate the needs of Yemeni refugees and to coordinate the mobilization of aid for their benefit, particularly in the following areas:
This list is not exhaustive.
Article 4: The Prime Minster, as well as the members of the emergency unit, are responsible for the implementation of this decree.
Djibouti’s Law on the Status of Refugees in the Republic of Djibouti (2017) provides:
Article 2: Definition of the term asylum seeker
Under this law, the term asylum seeker or person applying for refugee status means any person who leaves the country of his or her nationality or, if he or she has no nationality, the country in which he or she was habitually resident in order to apply for refugee status in the Republic of Djibouti and who is awaiting a decision by the relevant competent authorities on his or her application.
Article 3: Definition of the term refugee
Under this law and in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol of 31 January 1967 and the OAU Convention of 10 September 1969 Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, the term refugee shall mean every person:
b. who, owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his or her country of origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his or her place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his or her country of origin or nationality.
Article 4: Cases of exclusion from refugee status
The provisions of the law shall not apply to any person with respect to whom serious reasons exist for considering that:
a. he or she has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, as defined in the relevant international instruments;
Article 10: Non-discrimination
This law applies to all refugees and asylum seekers without discrimination as to race, religion or nationality.
RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS
Article 14: Fundamental rights
1. Without prejudice to Chapters I and II above, all of the fundamental rights and provisions set out in Chapters II, III, IV and V of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees and those set out in the OAU Convention of 10 September 1969 relating to refugees apply to every refugee and asylum seeker lawfully resident in the territory of the Republic of Djibouti and within the limits of rights accorded to nationals. These notably include the right:
- to non-discrimination;
- to freedom of movement;
- to civil status documents;
- to identity and travel documents;
- to education;
- to work;
- of access to justice;
- to property
- to practice his or her religion;
- to freedom of association;
- to public and social assistance;
- to naturalization.
In 2016, in its combined initial and second periodic reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Djibouti stated:
II. Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the  Convention [on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination]
26. As a result of the numerous conflicts in the subregion, the country has taken in a large number of refugees and continues to do so, without distinction as to race, origin or religion.
27. Since 1977 there have been several waves of immigration from neighbouring countries caused by armed conflicts between States: the Ogaden conflict in 1977 between Ethiopia and Somalia; the Badme conflict in 1998 between Ethiopia and Eritrea; and the civil war in Somalia that began in 1991 and led to a large influx of refugees.
28. The first refugees were settled in Dikhil but with the rapidly growing numbers two additional camps were opened by the Government in Holl Holl and Ali Addeh in the Ali-Sabieh region, with the help of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
29. Djibouti is a signatory to international and African instruments on the protection of refugees and respect for their rights, and the Government is currently strengthening the legal framework concerning refugees and implementing new measures.
30. The relevant decrees are as follows:
- Decree No. 77-054/PR/AE of 9 November 1977 establishing the National Commission on Eligibility for Refugee Status;
- Decree No. 2001-0101/PR/78-020/PR/MI amending Decree No. 77-054/PR/AE of 9 November 1977 on the establishment of the National Commission on Eligibility for Refugee Status;
- Decree No. 78-020/PR of 21 February 1978 establishing and defining the membership of the National Committee on Assistance for Refugees and Disaster Victims and also establishing the National Office for Refugees and Disaster Victims;
- Decree No. 78-077/PR additional to Decree No. 78-020/PR establishing the National Committee on Assistance for Refugees and Disaster Victims of 17 October 1978.
31. More recently Djibouti has adhered to two major regional instruments on the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons, leading to the promulgation of the following:
- Act No. 150/AN/06/5ème L of 21 June 2006 ratifying the OAU [Organization of African Unity] Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa;
- Act No. 97/AN/10/6ème L of 3 January 2011 ratifying the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention).
32. Since 2015 Djibouti has taken in 17,634 Yemenis fleeing the war in Yemen, of whom two thirds have chosen to settle elsewhere or freely return home. The remaining third are in the Markazi refugee camp near the town of Obock.
33. To deal with that new crisis, the Government established by decree an emergency unit charged with the coordination of aid for refugees from Yemen. Under the direction of the Prime Minister, the unit assesses the needs of Yemeni refugees and coordinates assistance for them, in particular in the areas of health care, water, sanitation and security.
Djibouti further stated:
V. Article 6
119. With regard to decentralization, to date there are still no courts outside the capital. Persons in rural areas wishing to resort to justice must travel to the capital.
120. That situation is considered an injustice and even discriminatory by the rural population. In order to improve matters, in 2010 the State party instituted a mobile justice service in the form of circuit courts that travel to the regions to hear cases collected by a specially created local registry. This is of course a temporary solution pending the construction of a courthouse in each regional capital.
121. Access to justice, which is a fundamental right, is guaranteed to persons living in refugee camps, who have access to the circuit courts.