By Chimezie Godfrey
The Federal Government has commended the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for providing support in the areas of Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Migration, in Nigeria.
Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, on Friday in Abuja, gave the commendation when she received in audience the out-going UNHCR Representative to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Antonio Jose Canhandula and his team, in the Ministry.
The Minister stated that UNHCR under the tenure of Canhandula achieved a lot in addressing humanitarian issues.
She said,“We worked closely with Canhandula in the past three years at the Refugees Commission and I appreciate his pro-activeness in handling refugees and migration issues especially in the registration of refugees coming into the country.”
She pointed out that UNHCR supported the Federal Government in the development and implementation of the Tripartite Agreement, Participation of the Global Impact for Refugees and the Conventional Travel Documents that allow refugees move out of the country freely as well as support in the service delivery of IDPs, their basic human rights and technical assistance.
Farouq appreciated the achievements recorded by Canhandula during his tenure and wished him well in his next assignment.
Speaking earlier-run, the UNHCR Representative, Antonio Jose Canhandula thanked the Federal government for the support given to him during his three years sojourn in the country.
He disclosed that in the past three years, there was an increase of Nigerian employees at the UNHCR from 30 to 96 and the Commission handled humanitarian issues in Cross Rivers State, Benue and is trying to register its presence in Taraba State.
Canhandula commended the Federal Government under the leadership of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari on the way refugees are handled in Nigeria unlike other African countries where refugees are isolated and kept in camps.
“In Nigeria, refugees are kept in settlements not camps.
“There are interactions between the refugees and the local communities, they attend schools and health centres in the communities where they reside and conduct their businesses,” he added.
Canhandula explained that from experience refugee situations do not last less than 17 to 20 years and advised that the Federal Government should use its political will to discuss with neighbouring African States to address issues relating to refugees.
He further said that UNHCH is ready to continue to collaborate with Nigeria on issues relating to IDPs, statelessness and mixed migration.