Over 2.9 million internally displaced persons in Nigeria have been forced to flee their homes in the North-East region of Africa’s most populous country, as at the end of August 2021. This has been due to over a decade of insurgency and conflict, according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency.
The report further indicates that many of them also fled the farmer-herder conflict and banditry in other parts of the country.
On the backdrop of these, Nigeria is currently a host to over 73,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, fleeing violence zones in Cameroon, out of which 67,000 are women and the rest are men and children, according to the UNHCR report.
The Commission addressed the growing challenge of food insecurity among Persons of Concern, eliminated waste and ensured a seamless distribution process, as well as increased the level of accessibility to food and non-food items
“With UNHCR’s support, Nigeria is a generous host allowing refugees to move freely and work legally. They receive primary health care like nationals, and their children can go to local schools”, the UN Refugee Agency said on its website.
The federal Government also provided land for refugee settlements.
The theme for this year’s World Humanitarian Day is #RealLifeHeroes. The celebration will be dedicated to share inspiring personal stories of the humanitarians that have been heroes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government agency saddled with this “generosity” of the Federal Government of Nigeria, is the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI).
According to experts and persons close to the Commission which has Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim as the Honorable Federal Commissioner, is indeed, representing the government and people of Nigeria in carrying out its assignments.
Technically, the NCFRMI mandate is to coordinate the national action for the protection and assistance of: refugees, asylum seekers, returnees, stateless persons, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and migrants. All these categories of persons are commonly referred to as Persons of Concern (PoC).
A woman of vision and character, Sulaiman and her team at the NCFRMI have defined their jobs thus “to integrate the best solutions through effective utilization of data, research and planning for the Return, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of all persons of concern.”
To achieve these objectives, they have in the past years executed several programmes, including; The Project Zero Hunger; Project Skill Up; Project Educate All; Project resettlement cities; Project Total Health; Validation of Roadmap of Global Compact on Refugees; Validation of the Global Compact on Migration;
Others include the Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerians from Chad, Niger and Cameroon; Return, Re-integration & Re-admission of Nigerian Refugees; and Declaration of FCT and Lagos Refugee Friendly Cities.
Under the project zero hunger, the Commission addressed the growing challenge of food insecurity among Persons of Concern, eliminated waste and ensured a seamless distribution process, as well as increased the level of accessibility to food and non-food items. In doing this, the Commission had carried out distribution of Food Care Packs to over 3000 Persons of Concern in FCT, Borno, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kano, Lagos, Niger, and Plateau States.
In February 2022, the Commission in partnership with iCreate Africa trained and empowered PoC on various skills such as catering, welding, photography, carpentry, cosmetology, tie & dye making, fruit juice making, catering, barbing and hair dressing, cobbling, etc. in FCT. Beneficiaries are given stipends as start – up capital with starter packs.
The Commission also provided skills acquisition training in soap making, cobbling, photography, barbing, farming, catering, and grains processing for PoC in Borno State in 2021.
The NCFRMI have also partnered with NITDA to provide training for 10,000 PoC in ICT appreciation skill.
Under Phase I, beneficiaries in the FCT have been trained and empowered with Starter Packs. Additional beneficiaries were also trained in Sokoto, Cross River, Zamfara, Katsina.
The Project Educate All with the theme ‘Readers are Leaders’ was conceived in line with the Commission’s work plan to address the growing challenge and learning needs of displaced persons as well as ensuring accelerated learning in emergency setting in line with global practices. On the 23rd June, 2022, NCFRMI launched the first phase of the project which involves the stocking of classroom libraries that will complement the transitional learning centres that would further enhance the reading and accelerate learning for pupils in camps and host communities.
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The Commission also launched the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics Summer Camp for IDPs. The Camp is a volunteer project proposed by the Peace Institute Nigeria, under the leadership of Hajia Hauwa Ibrahim, a Professor at the Harvard University, United States. The camp is organized for 600 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) aged 10-14 within the FCT.
The camp is also focused on teaching the IDP pupils some basic subjects such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, by promoting student-centered, interdisciplinary, practice-based and culturally responsive education.
The Project resettlement cities is strategically planned to give life to the commitment of the NCFRMI to resettle and reintegrate all PoCs. The project which is between 70 to 90 per cent completion is aimed at addressing the shelter need of displaced Persons of Concern.
The Project was launched in 2020 and is currently on its 3rd phase; each city comprises of 2 bedroom housing structures and other amenities; construction has commenced in four States of Borno, Katsina, Kano, Zamfara and Nasarawa States.
The Commission flagged off the Project Total Health on the 12th August, 2022 with a medical outreach at the Waru, Primary Healthcare Centre. Also in 2021, the Commission also carried out medical outreaches for PoCs in Karmajiji, Wassa and Durumi in the FCT. It also partnered with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to roll out COVID-19 Vaccines to PoCs during the pandemic.
The NCFRMI in partnership with the UNHCR and NHIS, registered refugees into the NHIS in order to access medical insurance. The Commission in partnership with all relevant stakeholders, such as the UNHCR, successfully validated the roadmap towards the effective implementation of Nigeria’s GCR pledges in December, 2021; it has also in partnership with relevant stakeholders, such as the IOM, validated the Global Compact on Migration.
The Commission has also completed plan for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerians from Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic, and in collaboration with other relevant government agencies and international bodies facilitated the safe return of Nigerians from Poland, Hungary and Romania due to the Russian -Ukrainian war. A total of 4,738 other Nigerians were returned from other West African countries within the same period.
The Commission also facilitated the repatriations of 17, 484 other irregular migrants in collaboration with IOM, from Libya (16,318), Morocco (287), Sudan (475), Egypt (240), and South Africa (164).
The NCFRMI facilitated the signing of the Declaration of the FCT and Lagos as Refugee Friendly Cities on 20th June, 2021 and 27th June, 2022. Nigeria has also signed Calabar and Benue as Refugee Friendly Cities.
The process of domestication of Kampala Convention as a standalone Bill is ongoing, while the Commission has validated the Standard Operating Procedure on Return, Readmission and Reintegration of Nigerian refugees, and is currently reviewing the National Migration Policy, 2015, even as the implementation Plan for the migration Policy has been developed.