Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has commended the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for providing support for Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Migration in Nigeria.
According to a statement by the Assistant Director of Information in the Ministry, Mrs Rhoda Ishaku Iliya on Friday in Abuja, Farouq gave the commendation when she received the out-going UNHCR Representative to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Antonio Jose Canhandula.The minister said UNHCR under the tenure of Canhandula achieved a lot in addressing humanitarian issues.
“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”.
The minister appreciated the achievements recorded by Canhandula during his tenure and wished him well in his next assignment.In his response, Canhandula thanked the Federal government for the support given to him during his three years sojourn in the country.
He said in the past three years, there was an increase of Nigerian employees at the UNHCR from 30 to 96.According to him, the Commission handled humanitarian issues in Cross River, Benue and is trying to register its presence in Taraba.
He commended the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari on the way refugees were handled in Nigeria unlike other African countries where refugees were isolated and kept in camps.“In Nigeria, refugees are kept in settlements not camps.
They interact with the local communities, attend schools and health centres in the communities where they reside and conduct their businesses”.Canhandula stated that from experience, refugee situations do not last more than 17 to 20 years.He advised the Federal Government to use its political will to discuss with neighbouring African states to address issues relating to refugees.He said UNHCR was ready to continue to collaborate with Nigeria on issues relating to IDPs, statelessness and mixed migration.