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Lagos gets City with Refugees status

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu (M) signed the Declaration of Lagos as a City with Refugees, with the UNHCR Nigeria Representative, Ms Chansa Kapaya; and the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Mrs Imaan Suleiman-Ibrahim

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has signed the Declaration of Lagos as #CitiesWithRefugees in commemoration of this year’s World Refugee Day observed earlier this month.

World Refugee Day, is a yearly global event observed on the 20th of June to specially celebrate and honour refugees and other vulnerable persons, who have been compelled to leave their countries of origin as a result of conflict or persecution and have become asylum seekers and refugees.

With the signing of the declaration, Lagos has become the second UNHCR recognized Nigeria’s #CitiesWithRefugees after Abuja.

During the event held in Ikeja, Governor Sanwo-Olu urged everyone to maintain peace at all times to reduce conflicts and renewed the pledge that Lagos would continue to provide an enabling environment for all.

In an address of welcome, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouk who was represented by the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Hajia Imaan Ibrahim-Sulaiman described the signing of the declaration as a defining moment with global significance as

Nigeria presently hosts over 84,000 refugees and asylum seekers who have been contributing positively to national development.

She said “I would like to acknowledge and applaud the resilience and doggedness of refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons in Nigeria. A good number of them are contributing to the national economy in areas such as healthcare, education, farming, trading, commerce, furniture making, tiling, construction, hairdressing, manufacturing, music and arts, etc. On this note, I encourage you to sustain your resilience; doggedness and l urge you to keep honouring your obligations and perform your lawful responsibilities by respecting the laws, customs and norms of the land.

In a keynote lecture titled “What it Means to Seek Safety, the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies, Prof Mohammed Ladan, noted that the theme of this year’s observance “Whoever, Wherever, Whenever, Everyone has The Right to Seek Safety” is apt, while the choice of Lagos as #CitiesWithRefugees is long overdue because of the many opportunities the State provides for all.

Prof Ladan challenged Policy makers, politicians, and others who create conflict situations to desist as nobody is safe.

He said “those who create conditions are the irresponsible political actors, policy actor implementers and other actors that support them, that do not actually care for humanity, that is where the problem lies, so the problem is not the refugees in their numbers, I think we need to change the narrative, we also need to understand the basis at which people are forced to flee”

Goodwill messages were delivered by representatives of the UNHCR, the US Consulate as well as a representative of  the Refugees.

Reporting by Omolara Omosanya, editing by Daniel Adejo