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African treaty to aid the internally displaced comes into force 2 years after it was adopted

A treaty that African nations hope will lead to the fair and humane treatment of people displaced in their own countries has come into force about two years after it was conceived.

Fifteen African nations have ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, which goes into force Thursday, and has been praised by humanitarian groups as a groundbreaking legal mechanism that binds governments to protect the rights of and help internally displaced people.

Bruce Mokaya Orina of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the treaty "represents a significant step forward in the protection and assistance of internally displaced people in Africa."

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which praised the treaty as "a historic achievement," puts the number of Africans internally displaced by violence at 9.8 million.