• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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ECOWAS tackles worsening humanitarian crisis in sub-region

ECOWAS tackles worsening humanitarian crisis in sub-region

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is developing a humanitarian needs assessment for internally displaced persons, refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers within the region.

Fatou Sarr, commissioner of human development and social affairs in ECOWAS, quoting statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on displacement, stated that as of December 2023, a total of 6,919,306 people were forcibly displaced of which 6,284,384 were IDPs and 634,922 refugees and asylum seekers.

The commissioner informed that data and information collated from the region show that population displacement resulting from varied humanitarian events, especially conflicts, contributed enormously to the worsening humanitarian situation.

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The commissioner represented by Sintiki Ugbe, director, of humanitarian and social affairs, ECOWAS Commission, made this known at the regional workshop on the validation of baseline data on humanitarian needs assessment of persons of concern; IDPS, refugees, returnees, stateless persons, asylum seekers and communities, in Abuja, on Tuesday.

Sarr also disclosed that recent data shared by the UNHCR further revealed that the number of stateless persons in the region surpassed 931,000, further exacerbating the humanitarian situation.

While stating ECOWAS’s commitment to addressing the impacts of displacement and related humanitarian crises on vulnerable populations, she stressed the need to develop appropriate data and information to close response gaps and alleviate humanitarian suffering.

“Other factors such as food and nutrition crisis and the prospects in the coming months and expected mortality rate, etc. have also formed the core reasons for ECOWAS’ decision to respond to these segments of the population in need. Critically linked to this intervention are the Global Refugee Forum pledges by Member States. Some of these pledges could only be accomplished through joint actions and require concerted teamwork,” she explained.

The workshop entailed developing appropriate data and information to close response gaps and alleviate humanitarian suffering, in line with the ECOWAS Commission’s mandate to assist member states in reducing the suffering of affected populations.

In his welcome address, Abel Enitan, the permanent secretary, federal ministry of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, emphasised the need for proactive action from each state, especially as West Africa grapples with unprecedented challenges.

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“Collaborative efforts are crucial in mitigating the immediate and medium-term effects on displaced populations,” he said.

He said though Nigeria has developed a national action plan to uphold the rights and dignity of displaced populations, gaps persist in relief efforts, particularly in combating hunger, malnutrition, and shortages of essential non-food items.

“In unity, let us renew our dedication to delivering effective humanitarian assistance to our region’s most vulnerable, and aspire towards a future where empathy and compassion prevail while ensuring that no one is left behind,” he added.