Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, on Wednesday, said it has committed $1.7 million in the northeast of Nigeria.
ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, who gave the figures, in Abuja, also said efforts were ongoing to address the humanitarian challenges faced by other ECOWAS citizens within and outside the region.
The amount, according to Jagne, was spent on food items and rehabilitation of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Speaking during the celebration of the World Refugee Day at the ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Jagne said the ECOWAS commission was committed to preventing causes of displacement through its various political and diplomatic processes.
Jagne further said the ECOWAS Commission was also committed to mitigating and alleviating the sufferings of displaced populations in the ECOWAS space.
Jagne added that the Commission was highly concerned about ECOWAS citizens, even as she said the ECOWAS Commission will work with its partners to ensure that the situations of displaced persons, refugees and other vulnerable groups.
“The insurgency in the northeast Nigeria presently leaves almost two million people still displaced. There are also other pockets of internal displacements in the region either caused by conflict or disaster.
“In responding to these situations, the ECOWAS Commission has provided assistance to displaced population in the northeast of Nigeria by sending food items worth one million dollars and supporting the rehabilitation of Nigerian refugees and internally displaced persons with the sum of 700,000 dollars,” Jagne said.
Jagne also said the Commission assisted the rehabilitation of victims of the twin disaster of flood and mudslide in Sierra Leone by disbursing a total amount of 800,000 dollars.
Also speaking, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ECOWAS and Nigeria, Jose Antonio Canhandula, said there were more internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria than refugees.
Canhandula said there was the need to keep in mind that human beings should not be eternally dependent on humanitarian assistance, while also calling for an end to human want.
“We need to integrate durable solutions to our collective strategy. We need to put an end to human want,” Canhandula said.
The UN envoy further said there are currently more refugees in Africa than in the past, saying that Kenya currently has 700,000; Ethiopia with over 900,000; Uganda with more than one million, Chad with over 500,000.
Speaking earlier, the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, in its efforts to address the plight of refugees in Nigeria, has commenced a robust interventions geared towards safe and voluntary return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to their original place of abode.
“In this regard, a tripartite agreement was signed on 2nd March, 2017, between the Governments of Nigeria, Cameroun and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Yaounde, Cameroun and a tripartite commission was inaugurated,” Farouq said.
Farouq also said the agreement was aimed at the voluntary repatriation of over 91,000 Nigerian refugees from Cameroun.
She added that preparations are quite advanced by the technical working group of the tripartite commission.