Empowerment will reduce burden on govt — UN

By Ike Uchechukwu

No fewer than 326 Cameroonian refugees are going through various skill acquisition programmes in Cross River State.

The Cameroonian refugees, drawn from different camps across the state, are being trained in ICT, pastry and catering, aluminium work, tailoring and fashion design among others.

Speaking with Vanguard shortly after launching one of its ICT career empowerment centre in Agagom, Ogoja, on Wednesday, Chairman, Board of Directors, Community Refugees Relief Initiative, CRRI, Dr. Celestine Atangcho, said the aim was to give the refugees hope as well as show concern and empathy.

Atangcho said the idea behind the empowerment was to give the people from the Southern part of Cameroon as sense of belonging and give them hope to carry on in life.

He said: “We believe it is better to empower the people in the various camps instead of just giving them food items and medicine, which is equally important.

“We are carrying out this training and empowerment in six camps in Cross River and we have others in Taraba State. We believe it will reduce a lot of dependency and create durable solution for the people.

“We want the people to acquire skills so that they can have something to fall back on when the crises at home is over.

“We know it will not last forever, so our people need the skills. A lot of them have lost their homes, jobs and families and they need to have a sense of belonging.”

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On his part, the  United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, Livelihood Officer, Mr. Ayuade Adetoye, said interventions of this kind will reduce the burden on both federal and state governments.

Adetoye said the initiative by CRRI was a laudable development that will help the people and something to fall back on in the nearest future when Cash-Based Intervention, CBI, stops.

He said: “If other groups follow suit, the refugees will be easily rehabilitated. And CBI will not last forever, so the empowerment will make a lot of refugees self-reliant.

“We really commend the gesture by CRRI and we appeal to other organisations to join in this kind of empowerment to reduce the burden on the government.”


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