About 2.9 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 70,000 refugees are in Nigeria, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.
Its Senior External Relations Officer, Roland Schoenbauer, and the agency’s Communications Officer, Gabriel Adeyemo, gave the figures during their visit to The Nation headquarters in Lagos on Wednesday.
They were received by the editor, Adeniyi Adesina; News Editor Bunmi Ogunmodede and Assistant Editor Bola Olajuwon.
An internally displaced person is someone who is forced to leave their home but who remains within their country’s borders. Refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another juridiction.
They commended Nigeria for its generosity towards refugees, noting that the country treats them as its citizens.
Schoenbauer said registered refugees in Nigeria had the liberty to move about, work, educate their children and seek healthcare than those in many parts of Europe.
He, however, lamented that rich nations had little interest in supporting the agency’s work in Nigeria.
He expressed satisfaction at “the generosity that we see in Nigeria”.
“I’ve been around and I think I can compare different countries. It was not difficult to get land for those settlements from the authorities. UNHCR doesn’t have land anywhere in the world, we depend on the countries that receive refugees and so we collaborate.
“But the generosity didn’t end there. It’s commendable that in Nigeria, refugee children can go to normal schools. They are not kept away from school like in other countries; they’re not put in ghetto schools, where people say ‘you won’t be able to learn with our children’. No.
“The same for the primary healthcare centres; refugees can go there. If they have appendicitis, they go there like a Nigerian would go there and yes, UNHCR supports the authorities in both areas. We have built schools and expanded the health facilities for COVID-19.”