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Country Representative, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Nigeria, Mr Jose Antonio-Canhandula, revealed there has been an influx of over 20,000 refugees into Nigeria, within one year.
Antonio-Canhandula made this known in Abuja, at a news conference to commemorate the 2018 World Refugees Day, yesterday.
The country representative explained that the increasing numbers of refugees into Nigeria was as a result of the influx of refugees from Cameroon due to the political instability in their country.
Antonio-Canhandula called on world leaders to come together to reflect on solutions that would put an end to the menace and added that there were about 68.5 million forcibly displaced populations in the world today, among whom 25.4 million are refugees while others are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
He also said that these populations had been displaced either because of conflict, war or because of other natural disasters.
“What I will like to say in relation to refugees is that in Nigeria, when I came; there were probably less than 2,000 refugees.
“Today, one year later, as we celebrate the World Refugees Day we are talking about 22,000 to 23,000 refugees.
“There is a new phenomenon of influx of refugees from Cameroon and I must thank the government through the Federal Commissioner on the way that they are responding humanely to the needs of these refugees.
“But the refugees should not be a situation that should go on forever.
“ At one point it has to end, people need to get back to their countries, to their families or they need in any case a solution that gets them out of this mentality and situation of refugees.
“We have a refugee situation that requires that we reflect on what solutions do we offer to these human beings like you and I, that is the objective of the celebration of World Refugee Day.”
Antonio-Canhandula said it is also important to talk about IDPs and migrants as they are also in the same condition of needs like refugees.
Commissioner for Finance, ECOWAS Commission, Mrs Halima Ahmed, said the International Day of Refugees was set aside to celebrate refugees for their courage, strength and determination.
She said that Nigeria had a total of 1.7 million displaced persons due to conflict and natural disasters at the end of 2017 with the total of 1.9million displaced persons in all the member states due to conflict and 300,000 to natural disasters.
According to her, 1.7 million Nigerians are internally displaced by the insurgency in the North East as well as 200,000 Nigeria nationals living as refugees in neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
“We will be giving them support, especially the Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria. Our core mandate
is to give them protection and assistance since we had the influx.
“We have registered them and taking relief materials to them.
“We have asked the governments of Benue and Cross River to give us a location where we can keep the refugees; because of the terrain.
“They are all scattered and they have given us the location and very soon, we will move there and raise the structure.”