Fred Itua, Abuja
The total number of refugees and other displaced persons across the world has hit 70.8 million, country representative of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Jose-Antonio Canhandula has revealed.
Canhandula who spoke in Abuja during this year’s celebration of World Refugees Day said the current number is the highest since the end of World War II.
He said no country or continent in the world is insulated from the global crisis. He hailed the Federal government and Nigerians for offering assistance to refugees from neighbouring Cameroon and other countries in Nigeria.
He said: “The difference between IDPs and a refugee is that, one crosses the border, the other doesn’t. But they share the same challenges.
“These families are not different from your family and mine. About 70.8 million people are refugees. This is the highest we have had since the World War II.
“Every region of the world is affected today by refugee crisis. The convention of IDP doesn’t exist anywhere else except in Africa. It is an enormous task to host refugees and provide asylum for them.
“In Nigeria, we support the government in providing help to refugees. We also offer services to IDPs in the North East. Nigerians are showing solidarity to their brothers who are IDPs.”
On her part, Federal Commissioner National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said there were currently over 2.1 million IDPs in the North East and over 471,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
She placed the number of refugees in Nigeria at 228,000. She said there was an upsurge in the number of asylum seekers and refugees, her agency receives mostly from countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Syria and Eritrea, among others.
Of this number, she said Cameroon, Central African Republic, Turkey and Syria have the highest presence in Nigeria. She listed Cross River, Taraba and Benue states as areas of influx of refugees.