Home News UNHCR, ECOWAS advocate protection of rights of refugees, IDPs

UNHCR, ECOWAS advocate protection of rights of refugees, IDPs


Abuja- The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday called for the protection of the rights of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in West Africa.

The UNHCR representative to Nigeria, Ms Angele Dikongue-Atangana, made the call at the opening of a two-day 2014 UNHCR-ECOWAS Commission Retreat with the theme: ”Strengthening the partnership between UNHCR and ECOWAS Commission.”

Dikongue-Atangana said the meeting was organised to review the progress of the partnership between the two bodies following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2001, and explore ways to further improve the partnership.

· Cue in audio 1 (Dikongue-Atangana)

“UNHCR partnership with the ECOWAS commission has yielded good results in multiple fields including local integration of thousands of refugees under ECOWAS protocols on free movement of persons, rights of residents, and the management of the asylum migration nexus.

“It has also facilitated the re-integration of returnees in post-conflict communities.

“Additional efforts are needed to be made towards the improvement of the legal protection environment for our people of concern in West Africa, the refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, and the stateless persons.

“This may only be achieved through the ratification and proper domestication as well as subsequent implementation of the relevant conventions.“

She urged participants to give priority attention to the adoption of joint comprehensive strategic action plan covering all areas of interest involving relevant departments of both organisations in order to ensure efficiency.

The UNHCR representative also urged members of both organsiations to be willing to adapt to emerging challenges in West Africa such as climate change, civil war, terrorism, and the outbreak of diseases.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr Fatimata Dia Sow, said the retreat was timely for the West African region considering the challenges currently facing the area.

The ECOWAS commissioner also urged participants to focus on promoting the rights of displaced persons in the region.

“As we commence this important meeting, I ask that we engage in truthful consideration of how best to address the vulnerabilities of our population.

“Promote the human rights of all persons especially refugees, the internally displaced and stateless persons.

“And also make effective contribution to the realisation of our dream of a peaceful, secure, and prosperous region.“

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