November 4, 2022

We’re committed to assisting displaced persons — Buhari

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said Nigeria is committed to assisting all displaced persons by providing durable and sustainable solutions for their rehabilitation, reintegration and resettlement back into society.

President Buhari stated this during the commemoration of the National Day for Internally Displaced Persons with the theme “The journey so far: The Future of Durable Solutions,” at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, said the National IDP’s day was dedicated to celebrate people in the country who had been displaced by both man-made and natural disasters and commended their resilience. 

He said the increasing incidence of forced displacement resulting from ethnic, religious, economic and boundary conflicts, natural and man-made disasters, and its attendant massive destruction to lives and property compelled the Federal Government to embark on a search for durable solutions through the drafting and signing of a National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons by FEC in 2021.

President Buhari said the recent flooding incidents that occurred in the country along with its devastating effects had led to the displacement of many more citizens, rendering millions of fellow Nigerians homeless and causing massive destruction of proprieties, farmland and infrastructure across Nigeria.

He commiserated with all those who had lost loved ones, their properties as well as all the affected communities and institutions, reassuring that this administration remained fully committed to the welfare and well-being of all Nigerians at all times.

According to him, “Ladies and gentlemen, the reality before us validates the choice of celebrating the National IDP’s day. Our gathering today is to raise awareness on the plight of IDPs in Nigeria by recognizing their courage and resilience while ensuring their participation in society and relevant decisions that affect them and promote their empowerment. 

“Like never before, this year’s celebration has offered us the opportunity as a nation to publicly and symbolically demonstrate our solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have lost their livelihood, their homes and even their loved ones to displacement. 

“Building on that, the Colloquium holding today will be a veritable opportunity for stakeholder’s both state and non-state actors including the private sector to understand the measures and strategies put in place to achieve the objectives of the IDPs policy document to better mitigate, protect and ultimately achieve durable solutions for Internally displaced persons in Nigeria in line with the whole of government and whole of society approach to durable solutions of the Commission.”

The President commended the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development for their active role in the coordination of national and international humanitarian interventions by ensuring strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness and response as well as management of the formulation and implementation of fair focused social inclusion and protection programmes in Nigeria. 

He also saluted the conveners of the event, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and their partners for their consistency and effort in providing protection and assistance to displaced persons across the country.

In her goodwill message, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq said the recent flood was a “sad global phenomenon as a result of climate change, which has also doubled the number of displaced persons nationwide and globally.”

She reassured all Nigerians that the Federal Government was prepared to do everything possible to mitigate the impact of this natural disaster while providing succor to ensure that citizens were able to rebuild their lives.

The minister, who said efforts were on-going on the domestication of the Kampala Convention, which is long overdue, added that this would further entrench the appropriate legal and regulatory infrastructure for the protection of refugees and IDPs as well as the promotion of their welfare in Nigeria.

In her speech, the Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Honourable Imaan Sulaiman Ibrahim, said the national IDP day was celebrated to mark the adoption of the ground breaking (Kampala Convention) for the protection and assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa as the first legally binding regional instrument in the world that imposes on states the obligation to protect and assist IDPs.

She said the day was therefore marked to bring to fore the unwavering resilience and determination of Internally Displaced persons in Nigeria and the resolve of the Federal Government at ensuring total rehabilitation reintegration and resettlement.

She said: “Ladies and gentlemen, to highlight the issue in perspective, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Matrix Index as well as the International Organization of Migration (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix, 2021, indicates that there are about 3.4 million displaced persons in Nigeria. “This is as a result of both man-made crisis and natural disasters. Incidentally, the increasing effect of climate change and particularly the debilitating effect of flood across the country has resulted to about 40% increase in the figure of Internally displaced persons, bringing the number of displaced persons to about 5 million. This has without doubt place the country among countries with the highest number of internal displacements.”

The federal commissioner said the commission had also developed and implemented a protection-based framework for asylum seekers and refugees in Nigeria. “Accordingly, through the tripartite agreements between Nigeria, Cameroun, and UNHCR, the planned voluntary repatriation of Nigerian Refugees in a safe and orderly manner have reached an advanced stage. Plans are ongoing to emplace a similar framework to voluntary return refugees in Chad and Niger,” she added.

She applauded the consistent efforts of Mr. President at ensuring a coordinated approach towards social inclusion to combat the effects of poverty and for strengthening the nation’s existing social safety net initiative for the vulnerable especially our Persons of Concerns (POCs).

Highlight of the occasion was the awards given to President Buhari and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development among others for their contributions to humanity and welfare of IDPs.