By Asmau Ahmad
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has called for more concerted and institutionalized effort in ameliorating the suffering of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Africa.
He said only the “collective and coordinated” approach would make a difference.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s media aide in a statement on Friday, said the Nigerian leader made the call in his remarks at the 16th African Union Extra-Ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Humanitarian Crises in African and Pledging Conference, holding in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
According to the president, more than five million people have been displaced in the Lake Chad region, with 70 percent of them mostly Nigerians.
He maintained that the violent onslaught by Boko Haram insurgents on the North East of Nigeria had led to humanitarian crises.
“We cannot deny the fact that we have a very dangerous humanitarian crisis in our hands,” he said.
President Buhari noted that the humanitarian crisis in the country had necessitated the creation of Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, which was designed to provide a national response strategy.
“This is in line with the Kampala Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons. I am glad to inform Your Excellencies that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs of Nigeria has continued to live up to its mandate in responding quickly to all situations of displaced persons and disaster management,” he said.
Buhari added that the ministry also broadened its scope of operations by caring for deprived school children in the country. “The ministry carries out a compulsory school feeding programme in primary schools across the country.
“This is to ensure that every child gets at least one balanced and nutritious meal daily. Through the ministry, government established IDP camps in every part of the country for refugees, returnee migrants and displaced persons, where food, shelter, clothing, medical care and other livelihood support are provided for all displaced persons.
“We also have introduced a Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, whereby a monthly cash transfer is made to the very poor and vulnerable in our society,” he said.
The president welcomed the establishment of an African Union Humanitarian Agency to cater for the growing needs of displaced persons and refugees.
“The rationale for the establishment of this Agency is to forge a common African position on humanitarian effectiveness and to create an appropriate continental architecture to effectively respond and coordinate humanitarian crises on the continent,” he added.
The president thanked the African Union, government and people of Equatorial Guinea for providing the platform for leaders to deliberate and address pressing issues confronting the continent.
The African Union Chairman and President of Senegal, Macky Sall, pledged $3million on behalf of his country, urging other African leaders to contribute to the establishment of the humanitarian agency.
The AU Chairman said the rising challenges of Climate Change, natural disasters and terrorism had made it mandatory to set up an Agency that would meet the needs of displaced Africans.
The President of the host country, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, pledged 4million dollars out of which 2million dollars would go to the new Agency and $2million would go to Mozambique.