UN, ECOWAS say Nigetia records influx of over 20,000 refugees in 1 year

UN, ECOWAS say Nigetia records influx of over 20,000 refugees in 1 year

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 7:25 pm

United Nations headquarters

Mr Jose Antonio-Canhandula, Country Representative, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Nigeria, said that there had been an influx of over 20,000 refugees into Nigeria within one year.

Antonio-Canhandula made this known on Tuesday in Abuja at a news Conference to commemorate the 2018 World Refugees Day.

He said that on assuming duty as UNHCR’s Country Rep., there were only about 2,000 refugees in the country but presently, there were 22,000 to 23,000 refugees in the country.

The country representative explained that the increasing numbers of refugees into Nigeria was as a result of the influx of refugees from Cameroon due to the political instability in their country.

Antonio-Canhandula called on world leaders to come together to reflect on solutions that would put an end to the menace.

He said that there were about 68.5 million forcibly displaced populations in the world today among who 25.4 million were refugees while others were Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), according to the News Agency of Nigeria  NAN.

He said that these populations had been displaced either because of conflict, war or because of other natural disasters.

“What I will like to say in relation to refugees is that in Nigeria, when I came; there were probably less than 2,000 refugees.

“Today, one year later, as we celebrate the World Refugees Day we are talking about 22,000 to 23,000 refugees.

“There is a new phenomenon of influx of refugees from Cameroon and I must thank the government through the Federal Commissioner on the way that they are responding humanely to the needs of these refugees.

“But the refugees should not be a situation that should go on forever.

“ At one point it has to end, people need to get back to their countries, to their families or they need in any case a solution that gets them out of this mentality and situation of refugees.

“We have a refugee situation that requires that we reflect on what solutions do we offer to these human beings like you and I, that is the objective of the celebration of World Refugee Day.”

Antonio-Canhandula said that it was also important to talk about Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Migrants as they were also in the same condition of needs like the refugees.

Mrs Halima Ahmed, Commissioner for Finance, ECOWAS Commission said the International Day of refugees was set aside to celebrate refugees for their courage, strength and determination.

She said that Nigeria had a total of 1.7 million displaced persons due to conflict and natural disasters at the end of 2017 with the total of 1.9million displaced persons in all the member states due to conflict and 300,000 to natural disasters.

“I want to give you brief information on the displacement figure for West Africa our own members state.

“Almost half of the new displacement is associated with conflicts and violence which took place in Sub-Sahara, they were 5.5million in 2017 which double the figure for the previous years.

“Disaster also triggered significant displacement in the region forcing almost 2.6million to flee their homes, the number of IDPs as at Dec. 31, 2017, whether as IDPs as a result of conflict or natural disasters.”

Speaking, Sadiya Farouk National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) said 2018 had been characterised by influx of Cameroonian refugees fleeing into the country.

She said that 22,000 refugees had been registered so far with the commission, stating that UNHCR and other partners were still registering.

According to her, 1.7 million Nigerians are internally displaced by the insurgency in the North-East as well as 200,000 Nigeria nationals living as refugees in neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

“We will be given them support, especially the Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria, our core mandate is to give them protection and assistance since we had the influx.

“We have registered them and taking relief materials to them.

“We have asked the government of Benue and Cross River to give us a location where we can keep the refugees because of the terrain.

“They are all scattered and they have given us the location and very soon we will move there and raise the structure.

“Our message is a message of hope, the government of Nigeria is here to give them support and assistance, and to have a fruitful discussions with the government of Cameroon so that the crisis that led to them fleeing will stop,” Farouk said.

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