Nigeria refugee commission kicks off World Refugee Day

Rahila Lassa, Abuja

The National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria has organised a novelty football match between refugees and humanitarian bodies in Nigeria ahead of the World Refugee.

The World Refugee Day is celebrated annually on June 20, as set aside by the United Nations to create awareness on the reality of the existence of refugees who are in dire need of attention.

This year’s event which kicked off with a football match in Abuja, is aimed at integrating refugees and the Internally Displaced Persons into the society.

The novelty match being the first of it’s in the country saw the refugees and the IDPs team beating the humanitarian team, two goals to nil.

Director of Finance and administration in the Refugee Commission, Mr Bashir Ahamad, who represented the Federal High Commissioner, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said that the Commission hoped to sustain the event annually.

“This is the time the Commission is organising a novelty match between the IDPs, refugees and the human right organisations, In fact, next year, we will do it in a more glamorous way and with wider publicity,” he said.

Creating awareness
Head of Division, Free Movement and Migration of the Economic Communities of West African States, ECOWAS, Dr Tony Luka Elumelu said that the choice of football for the novelty match was borne out of the desire to create awareness about the existence of refugees in the midst of other people which the game of football has the power to do.

“To create awareness among people that there are people living amongst us who have been forcefully moved from their own geographical location, so the attention should be ‘how can we integrate them into the society?”

Mr Elumelu noted that, “from the ECOWAS perspective, you know there is a free movement protocol, right to entry, residence and establishment, so this is an attempt to create awareness that we have our brothers and sisters who are here and we should make sure that they are well accommodated.”

“So football, you see, is a critical instrument in terms of integration all over the world, that is why we have the World Cup, African Cup, so we use this process to see if we can create awareness, sensitise the people,” he added.

On his part, the Assistant Representative Operation of the United Nations Refugee Commission, Boubacar Bamba said that the essence of the novelty match was to give the refugees some sense of belonging.

High point of the event was the presentation of football, each to the two participating teams, while the formal presentation of trophy to the winning team will be done on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.

The theme for this year’s event is “We Stand together with refugees/IDPs”.

Sammie Idika