ECOWAS to set up solidarity fund to rebuild North East
Mr. Edward Singhatey, the Vice President, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission says that plans are on-going to establish a solidarity Fund for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the North-East.
Singhatey made this known on Tuesday in Abuja during the celebration of the 2017 World Refugee Day with the theme “We stand together with refugees and IDPs”.
He said the Solidarity Fund was in compliance with the decision of the Mediation and Security Council to support the Federal Government’s Plan for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of North-East Nigeria.
He said that the humanitarian crises in the insurgency affected states of the North-East was enormous, adding that it was constantly being assessed by the ECOWAS Commission.
Singhatey said that the dire situation in the North-East deserved special attention, adding that it had necessitated the international community and ECOWAS Commission to engage in several interventions.
He said that the ECOWAS Commission, working with partners had donated one million dollars’ worth of food items to support the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 300,000 dollars for Nigerian refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The ECOWAS Commission vice president said that it also donated 400,000 dollars for the support of affected communities in the North-East.
According to him, a recent statistics by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates over 65 million out of the eight billion worldwide population are refugees, asylum seekers and IDPs.
Singhatey said that the African region represents about 30 per cent of the total number of refugees worldwide with a record of 180 million refugees as at 2016.
He said that in West Africa, displacement and sufferings were caused by conflicts and other natural and human made causes.
Singhatey said that failing to address the situation of refugees and other persons of concern amount to inviting adverse consequences for the environment.
He said that the Commission’s Department of Social Affairs and Gender leads the humanitarian works with the goal of a borderless, prosperous and cohesive region with the capacity to effectively prevent and mitigate conflicts.
He said the goal was also to limit the impact of conflicts and disasters on citizens and residents with a view to achieving human centered development.
Singhatey said that the commission would continue to support the efforts of the Nigerian Government in assisting refugees, IDPs and other persons of concern.
Also speaking, Mr. Jose-Antonio Canhandula, UNHCR Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS tasked Nigeria to join the new approach, which he said was the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.
He said that the framework was already being piloted by other African countries, including development actors and private sector in Chad, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Canhandula, however, said that UNHCR was working with various partners to foster the protection of refugees and IDPs, to collectively seek ways to increase support to the government in assisting people.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the occasion was attended by Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning.
Others present were Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, the Federal Commissioner, NCFRMI, humanitarian actors and the refugees and IDPs who displayed the wares they made from various skills acquisition programmes.0