By Omolara Omosanya.
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.
The World Refugee Day, is a yearly global event observed on the 20th 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.
“Even you as a spouse, why will you get yourself into a situation that you cannot resolve and you now want to increase the married/unmarried people market, please, all of need to listen and take away that lesson that there’s nothing that cannot be resolved, as your leader, as your Governor, we will continue to provide that ambience, that space for you no matter your religion, where you come from, what your beliefs are, no matter what your political colorations are, we will not make you uncomfortable by those reasons” The Governor stated.
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 and other PoCs 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, hair dressing, 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.
Lagos has always been and particularly under the current leadership, has created inclusiveness and promoted hope for refugees and other PoCs through favourable policies in the areas of education, health and social services. With the signing, Lagos is going to join other league of towns and cities in the world that have signed the Declaration”
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 implementors 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”
Good will messages were delivered by representatives of the UNHCR, the US Consulate as well as a representative of the Refugees.