Nigeria, UNHCR collaborate to protect Refugees

Rahila Lassa, Abuja

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Ahead of the World Refugee Day, the Nigerian Government in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has reaffirmed its commitment to the safety and overall well-being of refugees in Nigeria.

The submission was made during a Road-walk in Abuja, Nigeria organised by the National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons as part of activities to mark the Day.

The Federal Commissioner, Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim said Nigeria has commenced the enrollment of refugees and all Persons of Concern to ensure they have access to effective and efficient health-care delivery.

According to Ibrahim-Sulaiman, every refugee deserves to live a dignified life.

“In the face of increasing daily influx of asylum-seeking migrants from the West African sub – region, particularly from Cameroon due to the separatist political crisis in her southern part, has put in place robust protection regime for our Persons of Concern. Nigeria has one of the best convivial environments for refugees to operate in”. 

“Presently, Nigeria hosts about 79,000 refugees and asylum seekers; Cross River States alone hosts about 41,000 of them. Most of the refugees reside in Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Taraba, Benue, Lagos, Kano and Borno States. Meanwhile, there are about 320,000 Nigerian Refugees spread into Niger, Chad and Cameroon Republics.

“As a build up for this refugee day, we’ve also we have also embarked on a massive training of our registration protection staff to do more for refugees and persons of concern,” she explained.

Speaking on the theme for this year’s celebration “whoever, wherever, whenever, everyone has the right to seek safety, Imaan said: “The import of this message is that every person has the right to seek safety: whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee. To live in dignity and safety and peace does not discriminate against race, skin colour, tribe, social status, placement or class. It recognizes no hue of the blood colouration: whether blue or red! It is a fundamental human right.

“This year’s theme captures and points to the fact that people seeking asylum due to persecution, conflict or human rights abuse, are simply exercising their basic human rights to life and dignity, which should be respected, supported and upheld. To such vulnerable people, international borders should be open, without discrimination, to facilitate their flight to safety zones of choice.”

For his part, the UNHCR says Nigeria presently hosts about 3.2 million displaced persons.

The Deputy Country Representative to Nigeria, Mr. John McKissick, said that the refugees in Nigeria come from 34 different countries with 94 percent mostly Cameroonians.

Read Also: Cameroonian Refugees: UNHCR Lauds Nigeria, Seeks International Support

He maintained that over 100 million people are currently displaced forcibly across the world.

McKissick further explained that the Commission seeks to educate people on the fundamental right to seek safety and build a movement of solidarity for refugees across the globe.

“This is not just a one off activity for UNHCR during the World Refugee Day, UNHCR will continue to sensitize the public and advocate for sensitisation workshops and Seminars for officials for come in contact with refugees and other persons of concern on the need to flee persecution,Mc.kissick noted

Mr. Cho Ernest, who spoke on behalf of Refugees in Nigeria, commended the Nigerian Government for taking care of them.

“We have been here in Nigeria and we have been able to feel at home, we have everything but we still need things just like Nigerians equally do.

 “Each time we go to the office for anything, we are treated very well even if they are not solving that problem immediately. They are always nice in the way they respond to us.

“We thank the Nigerian government for accepting us, especially the people we live with in the communities, because Nigerians are good people,’’ Ernest said.

June 20 is set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home countries to escape conflict or persecution.

Nigeria currently hosts 3.2 million displaced persons, including some 82,000 refugees and some 3.1 million representing a 9 per cent increase from last year.



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