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UNHCR seeks protection of IDPs in Lake Chad region as insecurity heightens

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called for increased protection of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Lake Chad Region following heightened insecurity in Nigeria’s North East.

Lake Chad
Scientists say the Lake Chad, that borders Nigeria and some other countries, has shrunken by 95 percent over the past 50 years. They have also linked the Boko Haram insurgency to the lake’s situation. Photo credit: AP/Christophe Ena

Mr Jose- Antonio Canhandula, Country Representative, UNHCR Nigeria, made the call on Friday, January 25, 2019 in Abuja while briefing newsmen as part of activities to commemorate the Regional Protection Dialogue 2.

Canhandula said that attacks from the insurgents have forced about 15,000 victims of insurgency to flee to neighbouring countries in the region, hence the need for reinforced humanitarian response.

“What is happening in the Lake Chad area remains a protection concern not only for us but for the countries that have been hosting Nigerian refugees, that is Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

“In the last three weeks, there had been a heightened security problem in Baga-Kawa which had resulted in the flight of another 6,000 Nigerian refugees into Chad.

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“There have also been security problems in Rann and that resulted to the flight of 9,000 Nigerians into Cameroon and this is a situation that only comes to reinforce the need for us to sit again.

“And see in this continuance situation of protection problems for the Nigerian population, be they internally displaced or refugees, are we doing a good job, can we do better?

“I should also like to highlight that we are currently with other organisations under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, OCHA.

“Preparing a 90-day response plan for around 300,000 Nigerian displaced people as a result of the current security situation.

“We still need to reinforce partnership with the humanitarian organisations, with the government, to really try and see whether we can respond a little bit better to the plight of the IDPs population,’’ Canhandula said.

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He said the Regional Protection Dialogue 2 would bring stakeholders together to brainstorm on new ways to adequately handle the current humanitarian situation for better response.

The country’s rep. said that during the dialogue, UNHCR alongside other partners would inaugurate the Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP).

Canhandula said that through the launch of the HRS and RRRP, appeal funds would be raised to cater for the humanitarian needs of the displaced population including IDPs and Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries.

He called on the media as partners to project the sufferings of the affected population so that people could understand better in other to assist better.

“They are issues of dignity of the population that we need to take care and all of that is a responsibility of not only the humanitarian community but also of the media.

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“To project the sufferings so that people understand what they need to do in other to assist this protection.

“It is easy to sit in Abuja and talk about the suffering population, but when you look at how the population is suffering on ground, you might have a better perception of why you need to talk more about them,’’ Canhandula said.

The Regional Protection Dialogue 2 will begin on Jan. 28 with the launch of the HRS and RRRP on Jan. 29 in Abuja.

The Regional Dialogue 2 is aimed at reviewing the situation in the four countries of the Lake Chad Region (Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad), taking stock of the current challenges and priority points of action.

The programme would also seek better ways to enhance protection and the response to the most urgent needs of the affected populations. 

By Lizzy Okoji

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