Recent statistics by the United Nations Refugee Agency, (UNHCR) show that following extreme violent attacks of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, which spilled over the borders of north-eastern Nigeria into neighbouring countries like Cameroon, Niger and Chad in 2014, no fewer than 2.4 million people have been uprooted, including over two million internally displaced (IDPs) in north-eastern Nigeria. Additionally, there are over 531,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and over 239,000 Nigerian refugees. Regrettably, rather than decline, the statistics continue to increase as the violence continues.
The Nigerian refugee crisis which is now in its sixth year has rendered millions of people homeless. Families have been separated from their loved ones, children have disappeared with no trace and have no access to education just as access to healthcare and other basic amenities have become impossible for these victims of crises. The crises have also aggravated food insecurity and severe acute malnutrition in the affected areas, leaving an estimated 4.5 million people food insecure, in spite governments and humanitarian efforts.
On the occasion of this year’s World Refugee Day, we salute the efforts of the military and other authorities working to restore peace to the troubled region. Some of the refugees have begun to return home following the restoration of peace in their communities.
This newspaper calls the attention of the government to the plight of the displaced people and returning refugees to enable them reintegrate into the society and have a sense of normal life. This can be done through the provision of psycho-social support to the victims, provision of shelter, clothing, basic household commodities and increased access to basic amenities, while also ensuring that the peace in the areas is sustained.
We also call on governments and humanitarian partners to support the full implementation of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Refugee Response (RRP) Plan. According to the plan, a total of 40 Regional RRP partners are appealing for US$135.3 million. The top priority within the 2019/20 refugee response, according to the UNHCR, remains the saving of lives, provision of basic assistance to restore the dignity of the affected families, delivery of protection services and the improvement of their resilience and that of the host communities.
The World Refugee Day was first marked in 2001, after the United Nations General Assembly on 4 December, 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.
It is an occasion when people all over the world take time to recognise and applaud the contribution of forcibly displaced people throughout the world. The event honours the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. It is a day designated to bring attention to the plight of millions of refugees around the world. The theme for 2019 is : #StepWithRefugees — Take A Step on World Refugee Day.