By Victoria Ojeme

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has commended the efforts of the Nigerian government at containing and managing a large refugee and internally displaced persons (IDPs) population crisis in the region.

UNHCR’s representative to Nigeria, Chansa Kapaya made the commendation today in Abuja at the Technical meeting on the Global Compact on Refugees Nigeria Roadmap Validation Event.

She recalled that in a historic decision, the member states of the UN General Assembly on 17 September 2018, agreed on a new international framework – known as the Global Compact on Refugees – the aim of the compact was to transform the way the world responds to mass displacement and refugee crises, benefiting both refugees and the Communities that host them.

According to her, today’s meeting was to validate the Nigeria GCR roadmap.

In Nigeria the process of consultations on the Global Compact on Refugees began in 2019 and was followed up in December 2020 with a stakeholder meeting to review progress made in operationalizing the pledges made in December 2019 at the historic first Global Refugee Forum in Geneva Switzerland.

The Global Compact on Refugees builds on the existing international legal systems for refugees, notably the 1951 Refugee Convention, and on human rights and humanitarian law. It is a non-binding operational tool to bolster cooperation.

“It represents the political will and ambition of the international community as a whole for strengthened cooperation and solidarity with refugees and affected host countries,” she said.

“UNHCR, appreciates the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, as well as the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI) for taking Government Leadership and a “whole-of-society” approach to develop Nigeria’s roadmap towards implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees.

“Anything is possible when you create your own path and follow it. This Roadmap shows the significant steps we have already taken and commits us to action on the way forward. However, steps forward can only be taken if we work together to support each other.

“Nigeria has taken significant steps to ensure that displaced persons and affected communities that host large numbers of displaced persons are not left behind. Further action to invest in refugees, host communities and national systems on Federal, State and Local levels, will be required to build the path.

“The international community has an important role to play to support Nigeria by making development investments in strengthening national services and enhancing self-reliance and economic opportunities for refugees and their hosts.

“UNHCR is committed to supporting the Federal Republic of Nigeria in implementing its GCR pledges, ensuring protection, assistance and inclusion for displaced persons and affected host communities,” the UNHCR chief said.

In the past decade, the global refugee population has more than doubled. More than 26 million refugees currently live-in host communities, many of which are in neighboring countries. About 68 per cent of the world’s refugee population comes from just 5 countries.

Since 2020, the number of forcibly displaced people around the world has continued to grow at an alarming rate. Beyond official refugees, the UNHCR has gone from being concerned about 36.4 million people in 2009 to over 86.5 million people at the beginning of this year.

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