Refugee Day: Abuja gets ‘City with Refugees’ status

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By Aderogba George

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was awarded the title “City with Refugees” on Friday to commemorate International Refugee Day 2021, June 20.

The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the award was made by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya-Umar Farouk.

She was supported by her counterpart from the CTF, Mr. Mohammed Bello.

Also present at the ceremony were the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Ms. Imaan Ibrahim-Sulaiman, and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammad.

The others were Ms. Chansa Kapaya, Country Representative, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other stakeholders.

In his opening speech, Farouk said that the declaration of Abuja as a “city with refugees” was a major achievement that demonstrated Nigeria’s responsiveness to issues relating to refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons.

She said that the current administration of the CTF has done a lot to ensure that refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons are well integrated into the economic, social, health and educational fabric of the CTF.

The minister said that the theme for International Refugee Day 2021: “Together we heal, learn and shine,” called for greater inclusion of refugees in the country’s social activities.

“I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of global humanitarian actors, under the leadership of UNHCR, to thank the Minister of the CTF and his team for opening the doors of the CTF to refugees,” she said.

The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the signing of the declaration made Abuja the 267th city to do so.

For his part, the FCT Minister, who was represented by his Permanent Secretary, Mr. Olusade Adesola, pledged the commitment of the FCT administration to continue to listen to the plight of refugees in the city.

Ms Ibrahim-Sulaiman, in her welcoming speech, said Nigeria has implemented some of the commitments made to refugees at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum (GRF) held in Geneva, Switzerland.

She said the current leadership of the CTF has created inclusion and hope for refugees and other asylum seekers through supportive policies and social services.

“I praise the resilience and relentlessness of refugees, asylum seekers, stateless people and others in Nigeria. It is not a joy for one to leave his comfort zone to the other with its associated disappointments.

“Some refugees and asylum seekers contribute to the national economy.

“Some of them are skilled in certain trades, while others are entrepreneurs.

“NCFRMI will continue to work to ensure that they enjoy the best hospitality in accordance with international protocols and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“I urge the refugees to continue to respect the customs and standards of the host communities,” she said.

Ibrahim-Sulaiman therefore called on all stakeholders to support the NCFRMI to enable it to implement its mandate to complement the efforts of the federal government.

She explained that this would allow the commission to strengthen its national response to address the challenges of refugees. (NAA)

(NAN)