Posted by News Express | 13 August 2021 | 877 times
Nigeria and Switzerland Governments, on Thursday, unveiled plans to provide immediate socio-economic relief through the provision of cash incentives to 450 vulnerable migrant Returnees across the 19 Northern States who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking during the launch of the project in Abuja, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, reiterated the present administration’s commitment towards tackling emerging issues and challenges that may confront the protection and livelihood of returnees and potential migrants in Nigeria.
The 9-month programme was designed to provide cash incentives to the 450 most vulnerable Migrant Returnees, of which 40 per cent are female, while 150 females identified as having multiple vulnerabilities.
While noting that several measures were put in place to contain its spread in Nigeria at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister however noted that “these measures posed logistical challenges within supply chains, particularly cross-border and domestic restrictions of movement, which led to disruption in the food supply chains.
“Suffice it to say that the vulnerable groups most affected included the elderly, the chronically ill, people living with disabilities, women and child-headed households, unemployed youths, refugees and migrants who have lost access to livelihood opportunities.
“To mitigate the immediate impact of the pandemic, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry, launched and extended various financial assistance initiatives for business, families and individuals (e.g. Rural Women’s Cash Grant Programme) and modified the National Home Grown School Feeding programme to ensure that children were still able to receive a nutritious meal, whilst restricted to their homes during the lockdown.
“Further to this, 70,000 metric tonnes of grains from the National Strategic Grains Reserve and non-food items were distributed through State Governments to vulnerable individuals and households across the country.
“In line with our mandate to develop humanitarian policies and provide effective coordination of National and International humanitarian interventions, the Ministry embarked on resource mobilisation to adequately address the growing humanitarian needs.
“It is gratifying to note that the government of Switzerland graciously responded to support in providing immediate Socio-Economic Relief to vulnerable migrants impacted by COVID-19 in Northern Nigeria. The project is designed to complement actions funded under the UN COVID-19 Basket Fund by focusing on returned and potential migrants residing in northern Nigeria with beneficiaries drawn from Yobe, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara and Jigawa.
“This context-specific project exemplifies our focus on the ‘Leave No One Behind’ Principle of the SDG’s in carrying out humanitarian interventions. It is equally geared towards strengthening sustainable reintegration of returnees while discouraging irregular migration. I wish to assure you that working with the implementing organisation, IOM, the project will be effectively and efficiently implemented,” she said.
She also applauded the Switzerland government’s continued commitment towards the existing migration partnership, including the ongoing partnership with the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.
In his address, IOM Chief of Mission, Frantz Celestin who expressed concern over the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and spread of the virus, observed that the pandemic did not only created a global health crisis but has also disrupted economic activities and everyday life, affecting mostly those already in vulnerable situations including migrants.
Mr Celestine, who did not disclose the actual amount to be given to each of the beneficiaries, expressed optimism that the initiative will put more money into the economy with multiplier effects.
“Complimenting existing programs, including the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and the DFID funded reintegration program, this project seeks to address the psychosocial and socioeconomic needs of vulnerable returned migrants and potential migrants in the Northern states of Nigeria by providing immediate relief.
“The project has been designed to align with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s priorities and will ensure the needs of women, men, boys and girls are considered throughout the project. The project contributes to the 3 objectives of the IOM’s COVID-19 Strategic Response and Recovery Plan (SRRP), which aims at mitigating the longer-term socio-economic impacts of Covid-19, contribute to restarting human mobility and empower societies for self-reliance.
“The launch of this project is designed to complement actions funded under the One UN COVID-19 Response for Nigeria Basket Fund by focusing on returned and potential migrants residing in the northern parts of the country e.g Yobe, Kano, Katsina and others.
“As envisaged by the project, IOM and the Ministry will use the defined eligibility criteria for the selection of beneficiaries that would benefit from this initiative. This would include both vulnerable returnees and potential migrants,” he noted.
He explained that IOM in collaboration with other stakeholders, namely: NCFRMI, NAPTIP, NEMA, and other stakeholders have over the past decade implement various programmes in the southern part of the country.
On his part, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Nigeria, Mr Georg Steiner who was represented by the Embassy’s Project Officer, Ojoma Alli, observed that health and economic consequences of the “pandemic add to the difficult situation people face in areas affected by insecurity, political instability and economic hardship.
“These factors impact the management of migration movements and put further strain on government capabilities to provide for the vulnerable.
“Therefore Switzerland has committed some of its funding to support Nigerian Government agencies in the fight against the pandemic and its consequences. Switzerland stands by Nigeria in these difficult times and swiftly mobilized financial resources to support the UN COVID-19 basket fund in Nigeria in June 2020.
“Switzerland also supported an initiative by the Minister on delivering palliatives to vulnerable groups in Covid-19 urban hotspots via the World Food Programme,” he said, adding that about 50 projects in various areas are being implemented across the country.
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