The ongoing violence in the North-eastern part of Nigeria has displaced about 2.4 million persons in the region, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.
The agency said the increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was as a result of the conflict in the lake Chad region, as well as the cross-border activities from extremist group, Boko Haram.
The UNHCR Country Representative for Nigeria, Chansa Kapaya, said this on Thursday, in Abuja, in commemoration of the World Refugee Day.
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Ms Kapaya also said out of the over two million IDP’s in the region, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states has about 1.8 million.
The UN official said the crises in the Sahel region has displaced many persons in other countries such as the northern region of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.
Ms Kapaya also said there are 57,800 Cameroonian citizens seeking refuge in South-east part of Nigeria; 2,340 urban refugees and 1,122 asylum seekers in Lagos, Ogun, Kano and FCT- Abuja.
She added that conversely, there are 292,141 Nigerian refugees who have sought asylum in Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
According to her, the UNHCR had stepped up preventative and response measures in checking the spread of COVID-19 as well as intensifying efforts in the screening of refugees coming into the country.
She further disclosed that the agency had also established isolation facilities at the border and entry points into the country to screen for COVID-19.
“We are supporting the areas where refugees have been established in the South-east by supporting also the public health institutions and renovations so that they could have isolation facilities, providing medical equipment, testing kits, providing PPE, masks, hand sanitisers to partners and other community workers. So, basically, what we have done is to try to step up prevention of COVID-19.
“At the border, entry points, we are supporting the Nigerian Immigration Service by ensuring that we have people to screen anybody who is crossing, temperature testing and establishment of some isolation facilities in the event that there is a suspected case of COVID-19,” Ms Kapaya said.
In her remarks, the Nigeria’s humanitarian minister, Sadiya Farouq, said the federal government would consider including refugees in its social safety nets and welfare programmes.
Meanwhile, the ECOWAS commissioner for social affairs, Sintiki Ugbe, reportedly said the commission is implementing a ‘one million dollar food assistance’ as palliative to ease the impact of the pandemic in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.