The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Economic Community of West African States, to jointly improve the situation of displaced people in the West African sub-region.
The UNHCR has also predicted that people living in the Bakassi area may not be able to prove a link with either Nigeria or Cameroon in the nearest future.
The commission’s representative to Nigeria, Mrs Angele Dikongue-Atangana, made this known at a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
She noted that the partnership framework between UNHCR and the ECOWAS parliament “comes at a critical time in the sub-region, where additional efforts are needed to improve the protection of the environment for persons of concern, and ensure the full respect of their rights”.
Mrs Angele explained that through the MoU signed on Wednesday, UNHCR and the ECOWAS parliament have formalized their cooperation into a framework.
According to her, “this would allow both organizations to better protect the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees, IDPs, stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness.
“It would also ensure proper interpretation and application of relevant international, regional and national laws” she explained.
For the sake of clarity, she went further to describe the stateless person, saying that there were many of them currently found in one state or the other within the sub-region.
“They are not citizens of those states, but cannot point to any other country of their origin because they found themselves there as displaced persons due to violence, hunger, disaster among others,” she added.
She admitted that the issue of statelessness was very old, and recalled that in 2014, a decade of combatting the issue was declared.
She, however, expressed hope that the partnerships that the UNHCR is entering into across the world, would bring the issue to an end eventually by the year 2024.