The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons has put the number of refugees in Nigeria at 3.2 million with only 84, 803 registered officially.With only 17,334 ready to return home.
The Commission gave these statistics on Thursday, noting that it has begun the construction of five resettlement cities for use by displaced persons in the country.
The Federal Commissioner, Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim made this known in the State House, Abuja, when she was featuring on the weekly ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team.
According to her,Borno, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Edo states were already designated for the pilot phase of the project.
The trend of refugees and displaced persons littering the country has been heightened by insecurity, especially in the northern part of Nigeria.
Though the government has made several interventions to remedy the situation, most of the displaced persons usually renege in returning to their original places of abode.
All this comes just as the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum has taken steps to close a majority of the IDP camps in his state and made several welfare programmes to ameliorate the suffering of the people.
Report has it that since 2015, the dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram has held many local government areas in Borno State hostage hoisting their flags in such places, forcing many residents to flee their homes, thus increasing the IDPs astronomically.
Suleiman-Ibrahim while reacting to the development said, “When displacements happen; flood, communal clashes, people lose their homes and means of livelihood. So, we started a pilot phase of our project resettlement in 2020. The project resettlement city will entail building small cities because Persons of Concern (PoCs) have three options of doable solutions.
They can either locally integrate, resettle or they can go back to their homes but sometimes they are unable to go back home and that is why there is a need for the building of new communities or strengthening the capacity of their host communities.
We are in the third phase of our resettlement city project but the pilot phase is in Borno, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Edo States. Most of them are now at between 70-90 percent completion but that of Edo State is about to take off.
The Commission will proceed to address the issue of hunger as well as implement sundry empowerment programmes for the displaced persons, even as they imbibe new forms of livelihood.
Suleiman-Ibrahim who noted the recent adoption of the National IDP Policy in 2021 by the Federal Executive Council, described the decision as epic, saying, “that gives us the legal framework and clearly highlights everybody’s role including the IDPs and the host communities. We have been able to continue to strengthen the psycho-social support system for the Commission because people are displaced, they go through all kinds of trauma so, psycho-social support is key.
We have begun the piloting phase for the transitional learning centres in some locations, Edo, Zamfara, Imo, Bauchi, Federal Capital Territory and Katsina. We’ve been able to give persons of concern access to COVID-19 vaccines and also conduct medical outreaches in collaboration with the National Primary Health care Development Agency.
Continuing, she said, “With the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), we have been able to train 10,000 PoCs in all areas of ICT skills. This is in line with their own vision to achieve 90 percent of literacy for the citizens of the Federal Republic off Nigeria.
We have also introduced the project Zero-Hunger, which was conceived to address the growing challenge of food insecurity because when you are hungry, you become vulnerable and easily accessible to criminal minds. We also ensure that we give them targeted empowerment and capacity-building training to make them more self-sufficient and give them a new lease of life,” she added.
Suleiman-Ibrahim also identified three major challenges faced by the Commission, including security, the rising number of refugees and funding.
The major challenge is security. In managing humanitarian crises there are areas that we are supposed to reach and we are unable to do so and that is a major problem. Because even when they are undergoing a crisis, sometimes the places are not secured but they still require support.
The second challenge is the rising numbers. You will agree with me that we have had an unprecedented humanitarian crisis globally. These things just keep happening and we have to manage the issue regardless. So, I think the rising numbers is also a challenge and we have to find a way of shrinking the numbers as quickly as possible.
Then thirdly its funding; there is hardly any funds for anything and the requirement to be able to intervene quickly for these people,” she said.
With references to buttress her points, Suleiman-Ibrahim revealed that there are over 3.2 million refugees in Nigeria, “but so far the Commission has been able to register 84, 803 refugees in the country, adding that the country has been able to return voluntarily, 17, 334 Nigerians back home”.