The Borno state governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum and the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed visited the Niger Republic over the weekend.
The visit was part of the advanced plan by the Commission and the Borno state government to assess the situation of stranded Nigerian Refugees in Niger and arrange for their strategic return and integration.
Speaking to the refugees in Diffa, Senator Basheer Mohammed said the visit was long overdue and he wished he could have gone sooner. He then thanked the Governor of Borno State, Professor Zulum for engaging the Commission in such an important fact-finding trip.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has given directives to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development and her agencies to commit to prioritizing Niger, Chad and Cameroon, through safe and orderly return”.
“In July we began progressive talks with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Nigeria (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Our consensus is that the safety of each of you is most important”.
“It is our plan to return you to places that are secure. We hope to return you to better lives and reunite you with loved ones, friends and family”.
“I am pleased to also announce that the Refugee Commission is making plans to build the first NCFRMI Resettlement City Rehabilitation & Reintegration Project in four states within the country”.
“Each city will include a primary healthcare centre, educational learning centre, religious worship centre and skills assessment and training for all inhabitants. We are committed as one government – state and federal”.
“I have had deep discussions with various stakeholders on my way here and I remain humbled and equally challenged to do my best possible to bring you back home safely. I thank our partners, the UNHCR here in Niger.I thank the State government for the support rendered to every Nigerian”, the Commissioner concluded.
It could be recalled that as the agency under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development tasked with the responsibility for return, the NCFRMI has begun the process of a series of discussion that will lead to the signing of a tripartite agreement with Niger Republic.
This agreement will ensure a safe and orderly return of Nigerians within the region and also serve as a sign of true partnership between Nigeria and the government of Niger towards issues of a humanitarian nature.
As of July 2016, there are 280,000 refugees in Diffa region of Niger and approximately 6,000 and 10,000 displaced persons in refugee camp of Sayam Forage and Kabelawa respectively. According to a report by the National Emergency Management Agency, there 138,321 refugees in Niger Republic.
Also on the trip was the Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Social Development and Disaster Management, Grema Alhaji Aliyu.