By Ike Uchechukwu, CALABAR

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has called on all Nigerians to render support, protection and care for over 77,000 refugees wherever and whenever they meet them.

Head of Ogoja Sub Office of (UNHCR) in Cross River,Mr Tesfaye Bekele made the call on Monday in Ogoja local government area during the commemoration of the 2022 World Refugee Day.

World Refugee Day is commemorated all over the world on June 20 to celebrate the fortitude and resilience of refugees.

Vanguard learned that Nigeria currently, is hosting over 77,000 refugees in Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River and Taraba states; with Cross River alone hosting over 44,000 Cameroonian refugees.

According to him, the 2022 theme is “Whoever, Wherever, Whenever, everyone has the right to seek safety”.

He said that the World Refugee Day should serve as a reminder to the government on the need to do more to prevent and resolve conflict and crises.

He added that it was imperative for government to protect people regardless of their race, nationality, beliefs or other characteristics.

His word : “Today, UNHCR appreciates the support of the Nigerian Government and host communities who
have been exemplary in their support for refugees.

“As we pause to express solidarity with refugees in our communities and around the world, I hope each of us will also acknowledge and admire the drive, determination and contributions made by people forced to flee.

“This year, UNHCR calls for greater support and protection of people forced to flee their homes,
whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee.

“People forced to flee should be welcomed and not discriminated against. To get out of harm’s
way, they might take a plane, a boat, or travel on foot. What remains universal is the right to seek
safety.

“Reaching safety is just a start. People fleeing war or persecution need opportunities to heal, learn,
work and thrive in line with the Refugee Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees,” he said.

Also speaking, Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River,represented by Mr Princewill Ayim, Director General of Cross River Emergency Management Agency, commended UNHCR for their care and support for the refugees.

Ayade said that the number of displaced persons around the world was on the increase, hence the need to render support and care for the refugees wherever and whenever they are found.

He explained that there was need for government at all levels to show concerted efforts towards resolving all conflicts that leads to crises.

“For us as a state, we have created a conducive environment for the refugees in line with the guidelines embedded in the 1951 convention.

“We have done everything necessary to ensure that the refugees live in peace with the host communities in all the settlements that are in Ogoja local government area with adequate security.

“Today, the chiefs of the host communities are here, including the partners and members of the communities to show empathy for the refugees.

“We are here to tell the world that these refugees need serious protection and support wherever and whenever the flee from persecution,” Ayim said .

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