Udom Emmanuel

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom on Monday urged relevant government agencies to work together to stem refugees crisis in the country.
Declaring open the 2019 Economic Community of West African State Ambassadors’ Retreat in Uyo, Emmanuel said that policies must be put in place to discourage the youths from taking mindless risks in search of better economic future elsewhere.
He noted that issues that caused dislocations -ethnic and religions refugee challenges like the Rohingya refugee problem in Myanmar or the Xenophobic eruptions in South Africa or Boko Haram in North East Nigeria- should be tackled holistically.
He said: “Here in Akwa Ibom, we have taken bold steps to build capacity and encourage our youths to embrace entrepreneurship.
“We have challenged them to rise to the faith of our greatness through the dakkada (arise) philosophy.”
Emmanuel, who was represented by Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, the Secretary to the State Government, said the state government had inspired the youths to understand that all they needed to succeed was embedded in them.
He said: “This attitudinal change has seen less desire by our youths to migrate to other parts of the world, which may lead them into becoming refugees in foreign lands.
“Our youths are today applying the works of their hands to create things that have enhanced their economic well-being.”
The governor said this had enabled the state to enjoy peace and security, which correspondingly had led to in-flow of Foreign Direct Investment to the state.
Emmanuel said the state government was committed to getting young people off the streets, while decrying the porous nature of the borders.
He explained that no country would want to welcome economic liabilities into its shores.
In her speech, Her Excellency, Jean-Claude Brou, President of ECOWAS Commission, said the ECOWAS Ambassador’s retreat was one of the activities jointly organised by the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in line with the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations.
She said the retreat provided a rare opportunity for the distinguished ambassadors to deliberate on important regional issues to enhance implementation of policies through advocacy and sensitisation at member states level.
She said the theme of the retreat ”Mixed Population Flows and Durable Solutions in the ECOWAS Region”, was germane, given the challenges faced concerning the movement of the citizens to Europe and other climes in search of what they perceived as the “Golden Fleece”.
Brou, represented by Dr Siga Jagne, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS, said that the perilous journeys through the desert and the Mediterranean had resulted in the loss of lives and enslavement of the people.
She said: “This is a challenge we must confront. We must provide the conducive environment to encourage our youths to engage in meaningful activities that will provide self-employment.
“This calls for development of a relevant regional and country specific legal framework, high level advocacy and sensitisation for the implementation of existing protection related framework and the improvement of the general protection environment in the ECOWAS space.”
Brou decried the rising numbers of refugees and other vulnerable groups in the region and the need to enhance durable solutions.
In her remarks, Liz Ahua, UNHCR Regional Representative for West Africa, said that UNHCR and ECOWAS collaboration had been going on for decades.
She noted that the collaboration was currently anchored on three MoUs with the ECOWAS Commission for West Africa, the ECOWAS Parliament and the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
She said that collaboration of UNHCR and ECOWAS had enabled the sub-region to maintain momentum in addressing humanitarian concerns in the region.
Ahua, who thanked the state government and Akwa Ibom people for the hospitality, also thanked the Permanent Representatives to ECOWAS, the Representative of ECOWAS institutions, Representative of UN sister agencies and CSOs for their support to the partnership between UNHCR and ECOWAS.
The 2019 ECOWAS Ambassadors’ Retreat is a 2-day programme hosted in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom.


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