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UNHCR: About 7 Million West Africans Forcefully Displaced

Nigeria hosts the highest number of over three and a half million people.

Nigeria and Burkina Faso host the largest population if displaced people, with 3,578,996 and 2,062,534 respectively. 

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has emphasized the need for the protection of refugee, lamenting that no fewer than 6,976,470 million persons have been forcibly displaced due to conflicts and violence within the ECOWAS sub-region.

The United Nations Refugee Agency, noted that of the total displaced persons, 624,124 are listed refugees seeking asylum.

Also included in the figure is 6,352,346 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

UNHCR revealed that Nigeria and Burkina Faso are currently hosting the largest populations of displaced individuals, with 3,578,996 and 2,062,534 people respectively, with Niger currently accommodating the largest refugee population, totalling 325,419 individuals.

This was revealed by the Director of UNHCR Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa, Mr. Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde during the signing of a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UNHCR and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission aimed at protecting the rights of refugees in the West African subregion

The revised MOU, which was initially signed between the two institutions in 2001, now adds new areas of collaboration, such as the identification and protection of refugees found in risky migration movements, statelessness, emergency management, and long-term solutions to forcible displacements.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the signing of the revised MOU have reached an agreement to enhance their cooperation in safeguarding the rights and well-being of refugees, stateless individuals, and internally displaced persons within the region.

The agreement was based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed between the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E Dr Omar Alieu Touray, and the Director of UNHCR Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa, Mr. Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde.

Touray outlined some of the ECOWAS Commission’s initiatives to address the political and humanitarian crises in the region and said the organisation’s member states are assiduously working to address the underlying causes of the conflicts in the area through diplomatic and political engagements. The ECOWAS President expressed confidence in the Commission’s continued efforts in these areas to produce fruitful results.

Mr. Gnon-Konde, on his part said there is an ongoing occurrence of violent conflicts, disasters, and insecurity in various countries.

This, he said has forcefully compelled a number of individuals to leave their residences, both within the sub-region and beyond.

He therefore described UNHCR’s collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission as long-lasting, highly productive, and relevant in view of the current humanitarian context confronting the sub-region.

He noted that UNHCR also collaborates closely with other ECOWAS institutions, especially with the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the ECOWAS Parliament, with which UNHCR has previously signed distinct MOUs to address forcible displacement issues within the ECOWAS sub-region, building on the specific mandates of each of these institutions.

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