64.5m humanitarian crisis victims across ECOWAS need urgent help—Official


Group photo of participants at the conference

Severe humanitarian crisis across the ECOWAS subregion caused by conflicts, lack of basic services and climate change has pushed no fewer than 64.5 million victims into dire need of urgent help.

Mr Abel Enitan, Permanent Secretary, Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (FMHAPA), disclosed this at the opening of a workshop organised by ECOWAS on Tuesday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop was held to address issues affecting Persons of Concern PoCs —Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees, stateless people, asylum seekers and their host communities.

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Enitan said that there was a pressing need to address the unprecedented levels of humanitarian crisis which included food insecurity, displacement and the urgent response required from each member state.

He lauded the ECOWAS initiative of supporting its member states’ disaster management agencies, stressing that it underscored the importance of validating baseline data on the humanitarian needs of the victims and their host communities.

“This workshop aims to provide a platform for collaborative efforts in mitigating the immediate and medium-term effects on displaced populations across our region.

“In light of the prevailing challenges, characterised by violence, insecurity, armed conflicts, natural disasters and governance issues, it is evident that our region is facing deepening humanitarian crises.

“As we proceed with the needs analysis, we must prioritise humanitarian access as a critical lifeline for those ensnared in conflict zones, and emphasise the necessity of protection and assistance for all affected individuals.’’

Enitan said that the actions of ECOWAS member states must be informed by accurate data and a commitment to inclusivity, while acknowledging the persistent gaps despite the ongoing efforts in collaboration with partners.

According to him, the urgency of their collective responses is paramount to offer comprehensive support to all persons of concern and their host communities, leaving no one behind.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria underscores this commitment through its ratification of the Kampala Convention and the launch of the National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons in 2022.

“This policy provides a robust framework for addressing all facets of internal displacement and emphasises government’s duty to protect and promote the rights of IDPs, returnees, and host communities,” he said.

Enitan was represented by the Director, Humanitarian Affairs, Valentine Ezulu.

Prof. Fatou Sarr, ECOWAS Commissioner, Human Development and Social Affairs, in her speech, called for more intense collaboration to curb the victims’ sufferings.

Sarr, who was represented by the Director Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Dr Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, disclosed that the data collated from the region in 2024 showed that population displacement resulting from varied humanitarian events, especially conflicts, aggravated crisis.

“Key figures shared by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on displacement as of December, 2023 show that 6, 919, 306 are forcibly displaced of which 6, 284, 384 are IDPs, 634, 922 are Refugees and Asylums seekers.

“UNHCR 2024 report has put the figures of stateless population in the region at over 931, 000.

“In response to the increasing humanitarian events in the region, the ECOWAS Commission has constantly developed and reviewed its strategies in collaboration with member states and relevant partners.

“The review is in line with its principal mandate of assisting them to reduce the suffering of populations affected by humanitarian emergencies and affected communities.

“In this regard, the Humanitarian and Social Affairs Directorate has developed an inclusive strategy where member states and relevant partners determine the humanitarian needs of our populations, as well as the affected communities.’’

“This gives ownership to the member states and affords ECOWAS the opportunity to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the assistance to the utmost benefit of the affected communities and populations.’’

The ECOWAS commissioner explained that the workshop aimed to focus on addressing the impact of displacement and related humanitarian events on refugees, IDPs, migrants, asylum seekers and stateless persons, as well as host communities in 2024.

She said that other factors, such as food and nutrition crisis and the prospects in the coming months and expected mortality rate, among others had also formed the core reasons for ECOWAS’ decision to respond to the need of the victims.

“The overall objective of this workshop is to come up with appropriate data and information on the needs of populations affected by the identified challenges to further close the response gaps.

“It is also to reduce humanitarian sufferings which, if sustained, will ultimately close the gap in Humanitarian Development Peace nexus,” she said.

She also urged the participants to commit to the nine humanitarian standards as they deliberated on how best to solve the humanitarian crisis in the subregion.

NAN reports that the workshop was aimed at adopting the humanitarian needs assessment for the assistance of PoCs, IDPs, refugees, returnees, stateless people, asylum seekers and their host communities in member states.

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