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West Africa and Sahel

ECOWAS, UNHCR start special programme for refugees in West Africa

The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have started a special programme to enhance the welfare of refugees and displaced persons in the West Africa region.

Prof. Fatou Sarr, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, inaugurated the programme during the Ambassadors’ Retreat in Port Harcourt on Saturday.

Sarr reiterated the importance of synergy in the protection and provision of welfare services for refugees and displaced persons in the region.

“The focus of the retreat is to address the complex humanitarian needs arising from displacement within the region.

“It aims to foster collaboration among stakeholders and to mobilise resources towards the protection and well-being of the affected populations.

“The commission has provided nine million dollars in 2024 to support the plight of persons of concern in members states,” she said.

Sarr highlighted the significant contributions of partners towards the success of various initiatives aimed at protecting and ensuring the well-being displaced persons.

The diplomat affirmed ECOWAS’ commitment to finding actionable solutions to issues of displacement in the West Africa region.

Mr Xavier Creache, the Deputy Director, UNHCR Regional Bureau for Africa, expressed gratitude for ECOWAS’ assistance and cooperation in addressing the needs of refugees, stateless persons, and displaced populations.

“We appreciate the dedication and financial support provided by the ECOWAS commission, notwithstanding the persistent obstacles posed by instability and insecurity.

“There is a critical need for additional financial resources to effectively meet the needs of the impacted populations and communities,” he added.

Musa Nuhu, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to ECOWAS and Chair of ECOWAS PRC, underscored the significance of political will and commitment within the region in addressing the difficulties faced by refugees.

He stressed the importance of using a combination of national and international legal frameworks to protect human rights and address humanitarian concerns.

“PRC will continue its advocacy and sensitisation campaigns in member states to ensure effective and durable solutions,” he assured.

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