Sadiya-Umar-Farouq

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was on Friday conferred with the title of ‘City with Refugees’ to commemorate the 2021 International Refugees Day on June 20.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that conferment was performed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya-Umar Farouk.

She was supported by her FCT counterpart, Mr Mohammed Bello.

Also at the ceremony were the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Mrs Imaan Ibrahim-Sulaiman, and ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Mr Ibrahim Mohammad.

Others were Mrs Chansa Kapaya, Country Representative, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other stakeholders.

In her keynote address, Farouk said that the declaration of Abuja as ‘City with Refugees’ was a major landmark achievement which attested to the receptiveness of Nigeria to issues concerning refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons.

She said that the current FCT administration had done a lot to ensure that refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons are well integrated into the economic, social, health and educational fabrics of the FCT.

The minister said the theme for the 2021 International Refugees’ Day: `Together We Heal, Learn and Shine’, called for greater inclusion of refugees in the welfare activities of the country.

“I will like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the world humanitarian actors, under the headship of the UNHCR, thank the FCT Minister and his team for opening the doors of the FCT to refugees,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the signing of the declaration made Abuja the 267th city to do so.

On his part, the FCT Minister, who was represented by his Permanent Secretary Mr Olusade Adesola, pledged the FCT administration’s commitment to continue to listen to the plight of refugees in the city.

Mrs Ibrahim-Sulaiman, in her welcome address, stated that Nigeria had implemented some of the pledges made toward refugees at the 2019 Global Refugees Forum (GRF) held in Geneva, Switzerland.

She said that the current leadership of the FCT had created inclusiveness and hope for refugees and other asylum seekers through favourable policies and social services.

“I praise the resilience and doggedness of refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and others in Nigeria. It is not a thing of joy for one to leave her comfort zone to another with its associated discomfitures.

“Some of the refugees and asylum seekers are contributing to the national economy.

“Some of them are skilled in certain professions, while others are entrepreneurs.

“NCFRMI will continue to work to ensure they experience the best hospitality in line with international protocols and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“I urge the refugees to continue to respect the customs and norms of the host communities,’’ she said.

Ibrahim-Sulaiman, therefore, called on all stakeholders to support NCFRMI to enable it to implement its mandate to complement the Federal Government efforts.

She explained that this would enable the commission to strengthen its national response in addressing the challenges of refugees. (NAN)

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