Unarguably, wars, conflicts and human rights abuses, among other crises across the world, have forced millions of people to flee their original homes. According to a report from the United Nations, UN, more than 59 million persons are forcibly displaced across the world in 2014 alone due to these crises.
The statistics shows that presently, one in every 122 human beings is either a refugee, Internally Displaced Person (IDP), asylum seeker or stateless person. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, opined that the desperation for safety had always “exposed some migrants to the danger of either dying back home or dying while embarking on dangerous voyage.
“With 86 per cent of refugees living in developing world and with the humanitarian response system increasingly overstretched, international solidarity and burden sharing are crucial in meeting the needs of displaced communities as well as their hosts”, he said.
To highlight the effects of displacements caused by these crises, the UN set aside every June 20 to celebrate and raise awareness campaign on the displaced population, including refugees and IDPs.
Observers, therefore, note that the day calls for sober reflection as well as a wake-up call to everyone that is affected by displacement. Mrs Hadiza Sani-Kangiwa, the Federal High Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrant and Internally Displaced Persons, called on world governments to advocate for peace to curb displacements during the annual event to make the campaign effective.
“When there is peace and when human rights are adequately protected, it will reduce the desperation of people wanting to live their abodes in search of a safer haven,” she said.
Recalling the theme of the last celebration – “Displaced Persons: Ordinary People Living through Extraordinary Times –she observed that the aim of the celebration was to promote peace, stability and human rights across the world.
“This is an opportunity to raise awareness on refugee issues and remind people everywhere in the world of their responsibilities to help those who have lost their homes, lives and livelihoods and may never return home again. We all have a moral obligation and the responsibility to lend a helping hand to people who must flee as a result of conflict.
“The government of Nigeria is firmly committed to these principles and to seeking lasting and durable solutions. Domestically, we are committed to offering protection to genuine refugees and to ensuring that we strengthen our international commitments and humanitarian traditions,” Sani-Kangiwa said.
According to her, the commission is working with the UN High Commission for Refugees in Nigeria (UNHCR), Republic Chad, Niger and Cameroon where most Nigerians are taking refuge. In a remark, Ms Angele Dikongue-Atangana, the UNHCR representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, called on stakeholders to rise up to the challenge by showing love and protecting the displaced.
“I have seen situations where former presidents, prime ministers and professionals are seeking asylum in other countries as a result of crises in their countries. These are people like you and I, which means, no one is above falling a victim of such a situation.
“As the world is now globalised, so should our problems and worries be globalised,” Dikongue-Atangana said. The country representative reiterated UNHCR’s commitment to alleviating the sufferings of the displaced. She said that the commission was boosting capacity building programmes for stakeholders and partners.
She noted that some low-cost houses were being built for displaced people in Benue and urged kind-hearted individuals to contribute to the project. She also assured the public that the commission would not relent in providing relief items to IDPs in camps and host communities.
In response to these efforts, Mrs Jamila Shu’aha, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Special Duties, appreciated the efforts of the UNHCR, the diplomatic community in Nigeria and donor agencies for their assistance to Nigerians in crisis areas, especially in the North-East region of the country.
She also commended the efforts of President Muhammad Buhari in reclaiming the communities captured by the insurgents and restoring hope to the displaced. Shu’aha urged Nigerians to be tolerant of each other irrespective of their religions and cultures and also imbibe the spirit of dialogue to settle disputes.
In her remark, Mrs. Onyeka Onwenu, Director-General, National Centre for Women Development, noted that the plights of this vulnerable group gave great concern, especially as women and girls were the most affected. Appreciating the assistance of government and individuals, she said that enough efforts had not been made to alleviate the sufferings of the displaced persons.
Onwenu made a personal donation of N1 million to assist the Nigerian refugees and IDPs, promising to produce a song and a video that would spread the message on the plight of the displaced persons across Africa and the world. But Mr. Antonio Guterres, the UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugee, said that in addition to individual’s efforts to help the displaced persons, the world leaders ought to renew their commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention which sought for the protection of refugees.
By and large, observers insist that when wars, conflicts and human rights abuses, among other crises situations are eliminated, the world will certainly be a better place devoid of refugees and IDPs. (NAN)