Breaking: FG, stakeholders meet over plight of refugees

The federal government has said that it will not rest on its oars until issues affecting refugees are tackled in Nigeria.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, stated this in Abuja Thursday during a two-day stakeholders meeting on implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).

She said Nigeria has the highest number and carries the heaviest burden of refugees in the Lake Chad Basin region.
 She said: “On December 17, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees, after two years of extensive consultations led by UNHCR with member states, international organisations, refugees, civil society organisations, the private sector and relevant experts. Nigeria played an active part in this process.

“As you are aware, the world is facing serious humanitarian challenges. Available statistics from UNHCR, as at 2019, shows that there are 79.5 million Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs), including 25.9 million refugees and 41.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world as at the end of 2018. In the Lake Chad Basin region, there were over 3.3 million FDPs, comprising over 2.7 million IDPs in North-East Nigeria, 513,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and 244,000 refugees in the four countries. Nigeria had the highest number and carries the heaviest burden of the humanitarian challenge. 

“The adoption of GCR is a good omen for Nigeria. It has opened a new vista of opportunities for stakeholders to access support in a timely, predictable and sustainable manner. It creates an incentive for stakeholders to join forces and pull resources to address the humanitarian challenge and to do it with the intention of addressing underlying causes in a sustainable and humane manner. 

“In Nigeria, we have adopted this approach. In our efforts to advance collaboration, we worked with UNHCR and countries in the Lake Chad Basin to host a Regional Protection Dialogue, which led to the Abuja Statement of Action in 2016. In January 2019, we converged in Abuja again to review our commitment to the 2016 Abuja Statement and raise the tempo of stakeholders in its effective implementation. We also signed a Tripartite Agreement with the UNHCR and Government of Cameroon on the repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon and commenced its implementation with the return of over 130 refugees to their communities in Adamawa state. 

“In line with the spirit of the bipartite subproject with UNHCR, we equipped urban refugees in different parts of the country with skills, start-up capital and starter packs to engage in income generating activities that assisted to integrate locally in Nigerian communities. We worked with UNHCR and the Nigeria Immigration Service to issue a Convention Travel Document to enable refugees and asylum seekers to exercise the fundamental human rights of movement with all internationally recognised protection and privileges.”

The federal Commissioner National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed, who was represented by Director Refugees and Migration, Mr Tai Ejibunu said the commission has been partnering with relevant stakeholders in providing medical support for refugees in Nigeria.

He said: “One of the lofty programmes embarked upon by the Commission was the commencement in 2019, of the enrolment of refugees on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The Commission is also in talks with the management of NHIS to begin the process of enrolling IDPs into the Scheme. However, in the interim the Commission provides medical support for IDPs through collaboration with the National Hospital in Abuja. These measures will be replicated nationwide.

“Also, in a bid to foster self reliance and sustainable livelihood among PoCs,the Commission has begun series of projects geared towards ensuring economic empowerment of PoCs in Nigeria. The project titled Project Reliance in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will empower one million PoCs in Nigeria. The project will run nationwide and the first phase of verification of beneficiaries has been concluded in Borno State.”

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