By Jacinta Nwachukwu
Stakeholders in the humanitarian sector have pledged continuous support through strengthening access to national services that will empower refugees and persons of concern in the country to live self-reliant lives.
They made the pledge at a programme on Tuesday in Abuja to commemorate the 2023 World Refugee Day with the theme “Hope away from Home”.
Hajiya lmaan Suleiman-Ibrahim, the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), said the day served as a reminder that no one chose to be a refugee.
“We are developing a significant framework and guidance documents that will forester the provision of durable solutions to refugees and other persons of concern,” Suleiman-Ibrahim said.
“Let us stand together not only in solidarity but on willful determination to foster a world where refugees are not mere survivals but cherished members of our global community.
“Today serves as a powerful reminder that no one chooses to be a refugee; it is the circumstances beyond control that forces them to leave everything behind; their homes, loved ones, families and their familiar surroundings,” she said.
Similarly, Ms Chansa Kapaya, the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Nigeria, commended Nigeria for continuously keeping its doors and hearts open to people forced to flee their homes.
Kapaya said that currently Nigeria was hosting 95,700 refugees and asylum seekers in addition to the existing over 87,000 Cameroonian refugees hosted in four states in the South-East.
“Violence in Cameroon’s far north has also resulted in a new influx into Adamawa State, where an estimated 20,000 asylum seekers have arrived since mid-last year.
“In responding to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, Nigeria has cultivated a positive and supportive environment starting with a favourable asylum policy where refugees can move freely once registered.
“This approach is a testament of the country’s progressive asylum policies and commitment to standing with refugees,” she said.
Kapaya mentioned the cases of Cross River, Taraba, and Benue states, where refugee children stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their Nigerian counterparts.
“They attend the same schools, undertake the same national examinations, and earn the same certifications, ensuring that they are not left behind,” she said.
Another example Kapaya cited is the Lagos State Employability Trust Fund which has extended its reach to include refugees in their livelihood -enhancing and skills-building programmes.
On his part, the Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, Dr Sintiki Ugbe said the needs of millions of displaced populations were on the rise compelling them to depend on daily rations for survival.
Represented by Mr Godfrey Alozie of the Commission, Ugbe said this has been made worse by violence, abject poverty, chronic food insecurity, malnutrition, and climate related factors.
He said in giving hope, three areas have been highlighted namely access, to jobs, enrollment in schools and access to services like housing, and healthcare.
“The next is solidarity, for no fault of theirs, they have been displaced away from home. We all need to show them a sense of belonging. We need to welcome them as this will refresh their hopes.
“The third is solutions, we need to provide durable solutions to assist displaced populations particularly refugees,” Ugbe explained.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Refugee Day is an international day organised on June 20 every year to celebrate and honour refugees from around the world. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Razak Owolabi