The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons on Thursday said it has begun the construction of five resettlement cities for displaced persons in the country.
The Commission said there are over 3.2 million refugees in Nigeria but the authorities have so far registered 84, 803 in the country, with only 17,334 returning home.
The Federal Commissioner in charge of the Commission, Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim disclosed this at the State House, Abuja, when she featured on the weekly ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team.
She listed Borno, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Edo as the States designated for the pilot phase of the project.
According to her, “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 need for 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.”
She also said as part of its doable solutions, the Commission will proceed to address issue of hunger as well as implement sundry empowerment programmes for the displaced persons, even as as they imbibe new forms of livelihood.
“When displacements happen within Nigeria we are not the first responders. So, we are expected come in after they are stable to be able to provide them with doable solutions so that they can go back to normalcy”, she stated.
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.
According to her: “We have begun the piloting phase for the transitional learning centers in some locations, Edo, Zamfara, Imo, Bauchi, Federal Capital Territory and Katsina. We’ve been able to give persons of concerns access to COVID-19 vaccines and also conduct medical outreaches in collaboration with the National Primary Health care Development Agency.
“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 trainings to make more self-sufficient and give them a new lease of life.”
Suleiman-Ibrahim also identified three major challenges faced by the Commission, including security, rising number of refugees and funding.
“The major challenge is security. In managing humanitarian crisis 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 the 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 added.