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UNHCR affirms support to Nigeria in implementing its Global Compact on Refugees

.......UNHCR Rep, Chansa Kapaya says GCR, a game-changer to Nigeria's refugees, displacement situation

By Our Reporter

Dec. 10, 2020 - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has affirmed its support to Nigeria in the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), a tool it described as a game-changer to Nigeria’s displacement situation.

Ms Chansa Kapaya, UNHCR’s Representative to Nigeria disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja during the stakeholders meeting on the implementation of the GCR by the Nigerian government.

Kapaya said the GCR is a game changer because it is a powerful tool that recognizes the need for a holistic approach to addressing not only refugee situation.

She said that the instrument also seeks to address situations of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Asylum seekers, stateless persons, returnees and host communities.

She said that the primary objective of the meeting is to take stock and discuss practical ways to support the government in the implementation of the Pledges and objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees.

The UNHCR says the agency stands ready to support and work closely with the Government and other stakeholders in implementing, following up and reporting on their pledges and commitments at the Global Refugee Forum.

Kapaya added that UNHCR will also support in future planning and looks to the leadership of the Government of Nigeria to implement the Global Compact on Refugees by ensuring that the needed national systems and structures are in place.

“The Global Compact for Migration has four objectives to ease pressure on host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, expand access to third country solutions and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

The country has been home to over 61,000 refugees and asylum seekers who have sought refuge from neighbouring Cameroon, escaping from political tensions in the South West and North West of the country since 2017.

“UNHCR and the Government of Nigeria continue to record hundreds of new arrivals every month, these refugees are hosted predominately in the South- South in the states of Cross River, Benue and Taraba.

“The Country also hosts some 4,300 Urban refugees and asylum seekers living in various urban centers in Nigeria mainly from the DRC, CAR, Cameron, Syria, Turkey, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire and others.

“In addition, Nigeria faces a protracted humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria particularly in the three States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe which is now over a decade with a cycle of violence and displacements due to insurgency activities of NSAG that continues to create new emergencies.

“Despite a significant scale-up of humanitarian response since 2016, more and more Internally Displaced Persons have been forced to leave their homes with over two million internally displaced, while another 300,000 Nigerians displaced externally.

“And have sought refuge in the neighboring Lake Chad Basin countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The operating environment remains extremely volatile, particularly in Borno State for civilians, aid workers, humanitarian cargo and assets,” Kapaya said.

Kapaya said that looking ahead, it is essential to develop a road map that lays out concrete next steps and priorities, identifies operational entry points and defines indicators for short- and longer-term progress.

She said these should be looked at in areas such as health, education, water, sanitation, jobs and livelihoods, energy, infrastructure, solutions and protection capacity .

Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum said the objective of implementing Nigeria’s commitment to refugees was a laudable one, adding that there was the need to follow up commitment by action, which he stated, was very important.

Zulum said that was of the view that stakeholders should first look into the possibility of supporting Nigerian refugees, especially those living in the Republic of Niger, as well as those in the Republic of Cameroon.

He said the refugees have been agitating for return for a long time and the State was ever ready to partner with the Federal Ministry Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to identifying suitable places for their return in a dignified manner.

“This is very important because we have over 200,000 refugees from Borno State that are residing in the countries of Cameroon, Niger, as well as in Chad.

“They have shown their quest to return home. Nobody is forcing them. In fact, they are on my neck. And therefore, I am of the view that we should look into the possibility of supporting their return,” Zulum said.

Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, said the NIS was already putting in measures in place to ensure the inclusion and protection of refugees and other persons of concerns into society.

Babandede said the immigration service was working to ensure that refugees and persons of concerns of Nigerian origin have the official Nigerian passport.

In 2018, the UN General Assembly affirmed the GCR as an act of solidarity, recognizing the international community’s shared responsibility for protecting, assisting and finding solutions to refugees.

The Humanitarian Post

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