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Nigeria Re-Integrated Sierra Leoneans Get Passports
Jun 22, 2009, 12:28
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The first batch of Twenty Sierra Leonean Passports has been issued to Sierra Leonean Refugees, who have chosen to be reintegrated in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Sierra Leonean Passports were distributed to the reintegrated Sierra Leoneans on Saturday June 20, 2009, by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Nigeria, during the commemoration of the World Refugees day.

UNHCR Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Alphonse Malanda, described the distribution of twenty Passports to Sierra Leoneans as a show case of two hundred and thirty four (234) Sierra Leonean Passports which are currently in the possession of the United Nations Refugees Agency Lagos liaison office.

He said the 234 Sierra Leonean Passports were prepared in Sierra Leone by the Immigration Department, after a thorough scrutiny and verification by all parties including Sierra Leone High Commission in Nigeria and personnel from Sierra Leones Immigration Department, who came from Sierra Leone to verify the beneficiaries and their identities in Nigeria.

Mr. Alphonse Malanda said the decision for the issuance of passports came, after a coordination with the Federal Government of Nigeria concluded a multi functional and participatory Global Needs Assessment in the Cross River , Benue , Borno, Lagos and Ogun States, which outcome have been integrated into UNHCR Regional Operation plan for 2010- 2011.

The UNHCR Resident Representative recalled 2009 and said UNHCR signed two sub agreements with the National Commission for Refugees and ECOWAS Commission with a view of addressing needs of refugees and asylum seekers in the above states.

He said the agreement also covers the strengthening of capacity of both national asylum seekers as well as the National Commission for Refugees in the area of refugee protection and management.

It also signaled early warning for the Department of Humanitarian and social Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission for emergency preparedness and response, because UNHCR has declared the cessation of Sierra Leone Refugees as at 1st January 2009.

Honorable Federal Commissioner For Refugees, Hajiya Hadiza Sani Kangiwa reaffirmed Nigerias commitment to signed protocols and said, Nigeria is currently hosting ten thousand (10,000) refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Chad, Cameroon and some residual cases from Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as several other nationalities in small numbers from mostly African Countries in twelve (12) States.

This number does not include the eighty thousand (80,000) internally displaced persons between January 2008 to June 2009.

Guaranteeing the commitment of  National Assemblys  Human Right Committee, Chairperson Hon. Ben Lar said the Human right committee of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria supports all efforts, aimed at minimizing incidence of Refugees in the continent, which is why the National Assembly is focus on strengthening the capacity of Refugees Commission and other related National Institutions towards effective management and prevention of situations that give rise to refugees situations.

The Hon. describe this years  theme Real people Real Needs as a challenge to both policy makers and Humanitarian Managers to do more not only in providing care and maintenance for Refugees, but also to the circumstances that produced refugees situations.

He referred to a multipartite Agreement signed by the governments of Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone as well as ECOWAS and UNHCR as the first ever approach towards the implementation of ECOWAS  protocol on Right of Movement and establishment of ECOWAS citizens within the sub region.

Responding, Sierra Leones Deputy High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ECOWAS and the Central African Countries Major General (rtd) Edwin Sam Mbomah thanked the UNHCR, Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Nigerian people for the hospitality shown to his people. He said the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma is very appreciative of the efforts of the UNHCR, Federal Republic of Nigeria and all other players.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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