From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), have partnered to provide socio-economic relief for 450 vulnerable migrant returnees impacted by COVID-19 in the Northern States.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, while launching the scheme yesterday, in Abuja explained that the project tackle emerging issues and challenges confronting the protection and livelihood of returnees and potential migrants in Nigeria.
Umar Farouq added that the project will further address the plights of the elderly, the chronically ill, people living with disabilities, women and child-headed households, unemployed youths and refugees.
“In line with our mandate to develop humanitarian policies and provide effective coordination of National and International humanitarian interventions, the Ministry embarked on resource mobilisation to adequately address the growing humanitarian needs.
“It is gratifying to note that the government of Switzerland graciously responded to support in providing immediate Socio-Economic Relief to vulnerable migrants impacted by COVID-19 in Northern Nigeria.
“The project is designed to complement actions funded under the UN COVID-19 Basket Fund by focusing on returned and potential migrants residing in northern Nigeria with beneficiaries drawn from Yobe, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara and Jigawa.
“This context specific project exemplifies our focus on the ’Leave No One Behind’ principle of the SDG’s in carrying out humanitarian interventions.
“It is equally geared towards strengthening sustainable reintegration of returnees while discouraging irregular migration.
“I wish to assure you that working with the implementing organisation, IOM, the project will be effectively and efficiently implemented,” she said.
The minister thanked the Government of Switzerland for supporting the initiative and other activities that enhance the livelihood of the persons of concern in Nigeria, and the IOM, for entrenching better migration management in Nigeria.
She said: “This indeed is an indication of your continued commitment towards our migration partnership. The Government of Nigeria further notes the significance of your on-going partnership with the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.”
Earlier, the Switzerland Ambassador to Nigeria, Georg Steiner, said that Switzerland has committed some of its funding to support Nigerian government agencies in the fight against the pandemic and its consequences.
Steiner, represented by the Programme Officer, Migration, Ojoma Ali, said that the pandemic “is the biggest crisis facing humanity, hence the international solidarity and cooperation to tackle the challenges.
“The health and economic consequences of the pandemic add to the difficult situation people face in areas affected by insecurity, political instability and economic hardship.
“These factors impact the management of migration movements and put further strain on government capabilities to provide for the vulnerable.
“Switzerland stands by Nigeria in these difficult times and swiftly mobilized financial resources to support the UN COVID 19 Basket Fund in Nigeria in June 2020.
“In the past 10 years, we have successfully implemented more than 50 projects in various areas.
“This particular project is another proof of the well functioning migration partnership and the importance Switzerland attaches to Nigeria,” he said.
Meanwhile, IOM Chief of Mission, Frantz Celestin, said the project would be monitored thoroughly to ensure that the returnees fit in to the society.