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ECOWAS, UNHCR Sign Agreement To Deepen Refugee Protection

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – ECOWAS and UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, on Tuesday signed an agreement aimed at deepening collaboration for the protection of refugees, stateless, and internally displaced persons in the sub-region.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray signed on behalf of the sub-regional bloc while Mr Abdouraouf Gnon-Kond, the Director of UNHCR Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa, signed for the global body.

The agreement signing which was scheduled as part of the UNHCR Regional Director’s mission was held in Abuja.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Touray said the commission had tried to put some measures in place to address the political and humanitarian crises in the sub-region.

He added that the commission and member states were working assiduously to tackle the root causes of the conflicts in the sub-region through diplomatic and political engagements.

He further said that violent conflicts, disasters, and insecurity in several countries in West Africa “continue to force people to flee their homes to other parts of the sub-region and beyond.

“Currently, 6,976,470 people are forcibly displaced by conflicts and violence, and stateless persons in the ECOWAS sub-region, including 6, 352,346 internally displaced persons, and 624,124 refugees and asylum-seekers.

“Nigeria and Burkina Faso host the highest displaced populations with 3,578,996 and 2,062,534 individuals respectively.

“Niger hosts the highest refugee populations by far, with 325,419 individuals,’’ he said.

Responding, Mr  Gnon-Konde described UNHCR’s collaboration with the Commission as long-lasting, highly productive, and relevant in view of the current humanitarian context confronting the sub-region.

He added that the duo enjoyed excellent working relations adding that, UNHCR also collaborates closely with other ECOWAS institutions such as; ECOWAS Court of Justice and the ECOWAS Parliament.

Also, UNHCR has previously signed distinct MoUs to address forcible displacement issues within the ECOWAS sub-region and build on the specific mandates of each of these institutions.

They are; the identification and protection of refugees found in dangerous migratory movements, stateless, emergency management, as well as durable solutions to forcible displacements.

He added that the revised MoU included new areas of collaboration that had emerged since the initial MoU between the two institutions in 2001.

NAN reports UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, upholding rights, and working for durable solutions for persons forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict and persecution.

Also, UNHCR leads international action to protect refugees, internally displaced persons, and their host communities as well as persons without a recognised nationality. (NAN)



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