Eme Offiong, Calabar
641 Cameroonian refugees have been trained on different enterpreneural skills.
The beneficiaries who are also referred to as Persons of Concerns, POCs were trained by the Cross River State Government under the auspices of Mediatrix Development Foundation.
The foundation, which is a brainchild of the wife of Cross River Governor, Dr. Linda Ayade empowered 628 Cameroonians out of the number with financial grants to start-up businesses.
According to Dr. Ayade, “790 POCs are currently in vocational training, while 90 young people are to undergo peer mentoring training. Mediatrix Development Foundation has maintained a partnership with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in providing sustainable livelihood options for POC.”
The wife of the Governor also stressed that Nigeria through the Cross River and Benue State Governments were committed to helping refugees start a new life.
“The faces of refugees have changed from those of the world wars in Europe to the ones from south East Asia, Africa and the Middle East and more recently Cameroon. One fact remains, people have been forced to leave their homelands as a result of violence,” she noted.
Dr. Ayade emphasised that violence of any kind was not good as she urged stakeholders including the media to raise awareness on the plight of refugees in Nigeria.
In a remark to commemorate the 2019 World Refugee Day, Mulugeta Zewdi of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, said there were two refugee camps in Nigeria located in the north-east and south-south regions.
“UNHCR has a comprehensive refugee response framework enacted in 2016, which allows the commission to play a catalytic role by bringing together all stakeholders to provide the needed comprehensive response to refugees all over the world,” Zewdi said.
He said the World Refugee Day, which was celebrated on June 20 which gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the plight of refugees as he salutes their resilience and commends all for the effort to accommodate the refugees.
He explained that Cross River was home to over 27,000 refugees out of the 37,000 in south-south Nigeria.
The Acting Director General of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA Princewill Ayim said that the agency has intensified efforts to maintain security within the camps.
“The agency was able to broker peace between within one of the refugee settlements in Ogoja where tribal differences and leadership tussle lead to serious crisis,” he stated.
“We are working to address the leadership structure in the camp; we have also engaged the host communities and statutory Nigerian security agencies such as the Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps to maintain peace,” stated SEMA boss.
Cross River serves as a home to 27,000 Cameroonian refugees located in Calabar capital city, Ikom, Ajassor and Agbokim; of which only 8,000 have been registered.