UNHCR: Internal Displacements on the Rise in Nigeria

•Says it is struggling with growing humanitarian needs arising from dislocations

Festus Akanbi

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has raised the alarm over the rising cases of displacement in Nigeria caused by escalating insecurity in the country.

The agency said it was struggling to respond adequately to the growing humanitarian needs arising from the displacement, noting that it was “chronically underfunded.”

The UNHCR Representative to Nigeria, Ms Chansa Kapaya, who spoke at the launch of the Zakat Fund in Abuja on Thursday, pointed out that more Nigerians were being forced to leave their homes as cases of insecurity escalate in Nigeria.

Kapaya stated: “We are witnessing a growing level of internal displacement within Nigeria. While the relentless violence by the non-state armed groups in North-East Nigeria continues to cause mass suffering and displacement in the region, we are also concerned about the critically evolving situation in North-West Nigeria, where violence and banditry are aggravating communities, forcing families to flee their homes.”

She noted that unfortunately, funding had been grossly inadequate, adding that the agency had received only 10 per cent out of the $96.4 million it needs in 2021.

She said, “But as we witness increasing levels of internal displacement in the country, we struggle to adequately respond to the growing humanitarian needs. UNHCR has been chronically underfunded and so far for this year, we have only received 10 per cent out of the $96.4m we need in 2021 to support the various populations of concern.”

Kapaya called on private sector operators, including citizens, companies and foundations in Nigeria to assist displayed persons, saying private sector operators have a crucial role in assisting vulnerable internally displaced families.

She expressed the hope that the Zakat Fund would encourage the Muslim community to give generously to support IDPs in dire need.

She also spoke on the readiness of the Nigerian people to assist the distressed in their midst saying, “but as displacement situation increases, so too does the willingness and generosity of Nigerians to respond.”

In his presentation, the Senior Advisor on Islamic Philanthropy to UNHCR’s High Commissioner, Mr Khaled Khalifa, recalled that in 2020, the UNHCR’s Islamic Philanthropy programme was able to provide critical assistance to over 2.1 million people in 13 countries.

Soliciting financial contributions from Muslims and non-Muslims in the country, he said, “With the vast majority of IDPs in Nigeria being eligible for Zakat, we endeavour, through the Refugee and IDP Zakat Fund, to channel Zakat to help alleviate their suffering.

“The fund does not charge any administrative fees on collection and implementation of Zakat activities. 100 per cent of your contribution goes to those in need. It is a globally trusted, Sharia’ compliant programme that offers a most effective vehicle to any donor to channel their Zakat to those who are eligible to receive it.”

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