Cross River solicits stronger synergy with UNHCR for effective refugee management 

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By Christian Njoku

 The Government of Cross River has called for stronger synergy with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, (UNHCR), to integrate basic health services in the management of refugees in the state.

The call was made by Dr. Henry Ayuk, the Cross River Commissioner for Health, on Monday in Calabar, when officials of the UNHCR visited him.

Reiterating the need for better partnership, he appealed to the UNHCR to build capacity of local health facilities to deliver basic health services to both  Cameroonian refugees and host communities of Cross River.

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According to him, “such bilateral cooperation will foster integration of refugee services into routine medical services of the state.

“Integration of basic health services of maternal and child health, HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria will give impetus to Cross River’s pursuit of universal health coverage,” he remarked

The commissioner, however, thanked  UNHCR for its giant stride in upgrading health facilities in Ikom and Ogoja Local Government Areas.

He added that the present administration in the state was currently repositioning the Central Drug Store to support UNHCR activities.

On his part, Dr. Earnest Ochang, UNHCR’s Public Health Lead in Nigeria, highlighted some of the  successes of the agency while partnering with the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) in managing refugees in the State.

“Cross River has been very benevolent to refugees and has opened its doors to refugees.

“This state alone is hosting over 56,000 out of a total of 99,000 refugees in Nigeria.”

He indicated that 87,000 of the total figure are Cameroonian refugees, who have found solace in Nigeria amid political unrest in Cameroon.

Ochang also stressed the need for the state government to support refugee services and basic healthcare for the local and host populations.

Similarly, Mr. Mohammed Nafion, Head of the Calabar Field Office in UNHCR, said Cross River was dear to UNHCR because it holds about 56 per cent of the national refugee population in Nigeria.

He congratulated the commissioner on his appointment, adding that they would continue to collaborate with the state to better the lives of the refugees in the state. (NAN) 

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