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UNHCR, others seek new, effective approaches to tackling refugee, IDPs situations in Nigeria



UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) have called for new and effective approaches to tackling the refugee and displacement situations in Nigeria.

Both organisations made the call at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday in furtherance of the commemoration of the 2019 World Refugees Day (WRD).

Mr Jose-Antonio Canhandula, UNHCR’s Representative to Nigeria, said that the new approach should move away from the usual humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons so that they could become self-reliant.

According to Canhandula, the new approach should also go beyond making IDPs self-reliant to mapping out a Comprehensive Refugee Response Plan, where displaced persons can also contribute to the economy of the country in which they are seeking asylum.

“Today, forced displacement is a global phenomenon.

“No continent is unaffected; several countries are hosting more than one million refugees and interlocking conflicts have uprooted people across entire regions.

“With its WRD commemoration activities, UNHCR Nigeria is asking people to take a step with refugees, to show solidarity and  help the organisation demonstrate the impact of the Global Compact on Refugees.

“In this regard, UNHCR calls on governments and partners to find durable solutions to forced displacement in Nigeria and Africa, and to assist the leadership of African member states in ensuring the ratification and adoption of pivotal Africa and Global instruments, namely the Kampala Conventions on IDPs and the OAU Convention on Refugees.

“And the Global Compact on Refugees and on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” Canhandula said.

Canhandula added that in Nigeria, the 2019 Day would provide an advocacy platform for discussion of durable solutions to forced displacement of refugees and IDPs and the need for their protection and support.

He said that UNHCR would also seek new and effective ways of responding to the ever-evolving situation of forced displacement in Nigeria.

Also speaking, Hajiya Sadiya Faruq, Federal Commissioner, NCFRMI said that the theme for the 2019 WRD #StepWithRefugees was a challenge for everyone to join hands and take steps with refugees.

Faruq said that the needs of the refugees far outweighed the assistance offered so far, meaning that a different approach was required to tackle the challenges emanating from the refugee situation in Nigeria.

“As we commemorate the 2019 World Refugees Day, NCFRMI, UNHCR, ECOWAS, and other stakeholders are in solidarity with more than 35,000 Cameroonian refugees on the shores of Nigeria.

“And other Refugees from Central Africa republic, Turkey, Syria etc that Nigeria plays host to.

“We use this opportunity to identify with the more than 200,000 Nigerian nationals living in neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon as well as the 2.2 million IDPs that are displaced as a result of insurgency in the North East, conflicts in the North West, North Central and other parts of the country,” Faruq said.

She applauded the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari as evidenced in his handling of the plight of refugees in the country.

The federal commissioner identified some of Buhari’s commitments as approval of the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, approval for the issuance of the refugee convention travel document and enrolment of refugees into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Also speaking, Mrs Sinkiti Ugbe, the Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, said that the organisation remained committed to addressing refugee and displacement situations in the sub-region.

Ugbe further said that ECOWAS commission would support member states by developing strategies and policies on the actions necessary for addressing the phenomenon.

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)