*Refugee Commission raises alarm, says number of displaced persons now over 3.2m
*Discloses that Nigeria plays host to over 84,803 registered refugees nationwide
*That Commission has 7,243 Urban Refugees, 1,570 asylum seekers, 1,625 Ukrainian Returnees
*Assures agency has made moves to improve safety, welfare of IDPs in the country
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Thursday disclosed that there were over 3.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 84,084 registered refugees in Nigeria.
The Federal Commissioner, Mrs. Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim who disclosed this said the Commission also has 7,243 Urban Refugees, 1,570 asylum seekers, and 1,625 Ukrainian Returnees adding that the country has been to return voluntarily, 17, 334 Nigerians back home.
Mrs. Suleiman-Ibrahim disclosed this in a paper titled “Journey so far and the future doable solutions for refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons” at the weekly ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
She said the agency has taken a move to improve the safety and welfare of the IDPs in the country by creating five resettlement cities in some states.
The Federal Commissioner explained that the pilot phase of the scheme is being executed in five states such as Bono, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Edo.
The Commissioner said, “When displacements happen; flood, communal clashes, people lose their homes and means of livelihood. So we started a piloting phase of our project resettlement in 2020. The project resettlement city will entail building small cities because Persons of Concern (PoCs) have three options of doable solutions.”
“They can either locally integrate, resettle or they can go back to their homes but sometimes they are unable to go back home and that is why there is a need for building new communities or strengthening the capacity of their host communities.
“We are in the third phase of our resettlement city project but the pilot phase is in Borno State, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Edo State. Most of them are now at between 70-90 percent completion but that of Edo State is about to take off”, she said.
She also said as part of its doable solutions, the Commission intends to address hunger as well as implement empowerment schemes among displaced persons, as they imbibe new forms of livelihood.
“When displacements happen within Nigeria we are not the first responders so we are expected to come in after they are stable to be able to provide them with doable solutions so that they can go back to normalcy.
“So the recent adoption of the National IDP Policy in 2021 by the Federal Executive Council is epic because that gives us the legal framework and clearly highlights everybody’s role including the IDPs and the host communities. We have been able to continue to strengthen the psycho-social support system for the Commission because people are displaced, they go through all kinds of trauma so, psycho-social support is key.
“We have begun the piloting phase for the transitional learning centers in some locations, Edo, Zamfara, Imo, Bauchi, Federal Capital Territory and Katsina. We’ve been able to give persons of concerns access to COVID-19 vaccines and also conduct medical outreaches in collaboration with the National Primary Health care Development Agency.
“With the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), we have been able to train 10, 000 POCs in all areas of ICT skills. This is in line with their own vision to achieve 90 percent of literacy for the citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We have also introduced the project Zero-Hunger, which was conceived to address the growing challenge of food insecurity because when you are hungry, you become vulnerable and easily accessible to criminal minds. We also ensure that we give them targeted empowerment and capacity building training to make them more self-sufficient and give them a new lease of life,” she added.
Mrs. Ibrahim used the occasion to recount three major challenges faced by the Commission, which include security, rising number of refugees and funding.
“The major challenge is security. In managing humanitarian crises there are areas that we are supposed to reach and we are unable to do so and that is a major problem because even when they are undergoing the crisis, sometimes the places are not secured but they still require support.
“The second challenge is the rising numbers. You will agree with me that we have had an unprecedented humanitarian crisis globally. These things just keep happening and we have to manage the issue regardless. So, I think the rising numbers is also a challenge and we have to find a way of shrinking the numbers as quickly as possible.
“Then thirdly, its funding; there is hardly any funds for anything and they are required to be able to intervene quickly for these people,” the Commissioner said.