The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday in Abuja signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ECOWAS Parliament aimed at formalising collaboration between the two parties that would give better protection to the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the other helpless groups within the ECOWAS sub-region.
The signing, which preceded the main event-a one-day workshop on the role of parliamentarians in addressing statelessness and displacement of persons within the sub-region, was done on behalf of both parties by UNHCR Representative to Nigeria, Ms Angele Dikongue-Atangana, and the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Moustapha Cisse Lo, respectively.
Delivering the keynote address at the occasion, Ms Dikongue Atagana extolled the enduring collaboration between UNHCR and ECOWAS over the past 15 years which, according to her, resulted in the signing of an MoU between ECOWAS Commission and UNHCR in 2001, and between UNHCR and ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in 2015.
“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.
“Through the MoU signed today, UNHCR and the ECOWAS Parliament have formalised their cooperation into a framework that would allow our organisations to better protect the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees, IDPs, stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness; and work to ensure proper interpretation and application of relevant international, regional and national laws, she explained.
Explaining to journalists who a stateless person is, she said there are many currently found in one state or the other within the sub-region that 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.
By Abah Adah