What Nigeria Needs To Address Challenges Of Refugees, IDPs – UNHCR

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Cross-section of participants at the vulnerability dialogue in Abuja.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said new technologies and innovations are essential in addressing the challenges of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria.

The UN Refugee Agency livelihoods and economic inclusion officer, Yukta Kumar, made this known at the vulnerability dialogue in Abuja with the theme ‘Using tech and innovation to reduce the plight of refugees and IDPs in Nigeria’ convened by The Skilled Women Initiative (TSWINI), saying the forum presented an important opportunity for joint learning from different experiences of the government of Nigeria, development partners, NGOs, civil society, academia, private sector, UN agencies and other stakeholders, adding it was a pathway for increased cooperation and collaboration ensuring better outcomes for persons of concern.

L-R: director-general of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ms Victoria Akai and chief executive officer of Ecologistics Integrated Services, Dr Paul Abolo during the vulnerability dialogue in Abuja.

“I would like to commend the organisers for creating an opportunity to bring together stakeholders for this important dialogue on how technology and innovation can support positive outcomes in the lives and livelihoods of refugees, internally displaced persons and persons of concern. 

“We all have an obligation to ensure that refugees, internally displaced persons and persons of concern are adequately protected by ensuring that both humanitarian and development assistance address the challenges of displacement in a predictable and sustainable manner. New technologies and innovations play an essential part in helping us address these challenges,” he said.

In her remarks, the director-general of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Ms Victoria Akai, said Nigeria needed to make adequate investment in internet infrastructure to ensure uninsured availability of data as this is the fuel for the digital economy on which we all now depend, adding there are no interventions or programs to cater for displaced persons today that can be established, sustained and be impactful without the use of technology.

She pointed out that being displaced does not necessarily mean they are also unproductive, stressing they can be productive and can leverage on ICT opportunities to make themselves economically free.

Earlier, the TSWINI founder, Mrs Chisom Nwankwo, emphasized that the role of technology and innovation in nation building cannot be overlooked especially if Nigeria is serious about changing the narrative for vulnerable people and persons of concern within her communities.

She added the theme of the dialogue was chosen to highlight new and emerging technologies and innovation in education, health, housing, data collection that could be used in reducing the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons in Nigeria, stressing the objective of the policy advocacy event was to bring together a cross section of organizations (government agencies, NGOs, CBOs, and private organization) who work within the refugee and IDP space, to create a synergy and improve results using tech and innovation. 

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