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UNHCR calls for solidarity, action as global displacement hits nearly 80 million

Abuja, June 18, 2020 The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday called for action and solidarity, as 79.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution,

Ms Chansa Kapaya, UNHCR’s Representative to Nigeria, made the call on Thursday in Abuja during the commemoration of the 2020 World Refugee Day with the theme ‘Everyone can make a difference, every action counts’.

The UN Refugee Agency reveals that that this is the highest number of displacement the world was witnessing since World War II.

Kapaya said that commemorating the 2020 World Refugees Day, UNHCR is appealing to everyone to help continue the global movement of solidarity and action.

She explained that everyone can make a difference and everyone counts when it comes to promoting inclusion, respect, and dignity for all including refugees, internally displaced and stateless persons.

Kapaya said that the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown that everyone matters, including refugees and other persons of concerns who have either been on the frontline and making positive contributions fighting the pandemic.

“Two decades ago, the numbers of refugees and internally displaced seem to be declining.

“However today, the inverse is true as we estimate that 1 out of every 100 people has fled their homes because of conflicts and climate change among others.

“The number is overwhelming. It is important to remember that these nearly 80 million are real people whose lives have been torn apart, leaving their homes, family, jobs and schools behind.

“In Nigeria, the Persons of Concern to UNHCR include, 2,045,000 IDPs in the North East, out of which 1.8 million are in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY) states, 57,800 Cameroonian Refugees in the South East.

“2,340 urban refugees and 1,122 asylum seekers in Lagos, Ogun, FCT and Kano States.

“Over the past few years, there has been escalation of conflicts in the Lake Chad Region with cross-border activities of Boko Haram which has caused the displacement of many in North Eastern part of Nigeria and far northern region Cameroon.

“Consequently, 292,141 Nigerian refugees have sought asylum in Niger, Cameroon and Chad”, Kapaya said.

In her remarks, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster and Social Development said that the theme of the 2020 WRD was apt following global devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that the protection of refugees and other vulnerable groups is among the top priorities of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and the Ministry would continue to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees.

“Let me emphasise that in other to make everyone count, most especially the vulnerable groups, all hands must be on deck in our drive to providing protection, assistance to refugees and IDPS.

“The Ministry took a step further step in developing modalities for inclusion of refugees in the social safety nets, through the National Social Investment Programme,” Farouq said.

Farouq called on the international community to show commitment in the implementation of the Global Compact for Refugees, a document she explains has provided a veritable guide towards addressing the protection of refugees.

Also speaking, Ms Fatima Jagne, ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, said that Commission is committed to engaging Member States, local communities and partners to search for durable solutions to displacement in the region.

Jagne, who was represented by Dr Sintiki Tarfa-Ugbe, Director, Humanitarian and social Affairs in the commission, said that the Commission was making these through various political and diplomatic processes as well.

She added that ECOWAS Commission was also geared towards mitigating and alleviating the sufferings of our displaced populations in the ECOWAS space.

She said that the Commission is most concerned about the people and will work with partners to ensure that their situations are ameliorated.

Mr Ernest Cho, a Cameroonian Refugee in Nigeria, appreciated the UNHCR and the Federal Government for their assistance in alleviating their plights.

He said that, aside relief aid, the UN and FG have been able to help them acquire permits to work and earn a decent living in Nigeria.

By Lizzy Okoji

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