The World Refugee Day, a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the courage and strength of asylum seekers across the globe and to recognize the contributions of host governments in creating a harmonious coexistence between locals and refugees is marked on June 20th of every year.
The day which was marked in Cross River’s city of Ogoja had the presence of both Cross River and Benue governments, the United Nations, implementing organizations who are charged with the welfare of the over 36,000 Cameroonian refugees in the state with all and sundry calling for an end to segregation between members of host community and the foreigners.
Director General of the Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Janet Ekpenyong while delivering her remarks, praised the state Governor, His Excellency, Senator (Prof.) Ben Ayade for accepting to host the refugees across 11 local government areas of the state with a guaranteed protection of their lives, livelihood and properties since the start of the Ambazonia crises in 2017.
She said the government’s commitment towards providing succour in all areas of life including healthcare have been all inclusive with locals and refugees enjoying same privileges, an action which has promoted peace and harmony in all host communities.
She therefore called on the international community to intervene in the crises which have caused thousands of deaths, leaving millions displaced causing both psychological and emotional troubles to both the old and the young.
“I wish to appreciate the United Nations High Commission For Refugees for bringing everyone together to mark the World Refugees Day. It’s a day that reminds us of the plight of the refugees. A day like this reminds us all to do more for the refugees especially in engaging their government to find a lasting peace concerning the Ambazonia crisis. I must appreciate the efforts of the Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade for the warm reception refugees have enjoyed since the start of the regional war in Cameroon.
“The Governor has directed that all services enjoyed by citizens be extended to the refugees as well and that is why, in the health sector, we have incorperated them into all health interventions, the Health Insurance Scheme as well as the ongoing COVID-19 Vaccination exercise, where a good percentage of their population have already been vaccinated.
“As a government, we will continue to do our best to ensure that no one feels segregated or marginalized while we continue to partner with relevant bodies to ensure that they return to their ancestral homes within the shortest time.”
Representative of the United Nations High Commission For Refugees, Tesfaye Bekele, praised the government for the numerous support toward intergrating the refugees with the locals to enjoy privileges like other citizens.
According to Tesfaye, Cross River’s health intervention has been the best in many refugee settlement across the globe. He appreciated the Director General for prioritizing the refugees in the ongoing vaccination and other health interventions while encouraging other states and countries to adopt the state’s model towards providing comprehensive and unrestricted access to healthcare for all asylum seekers.
One of the Heads of the Ogoja Refugee Camp, PA Agom Egom praised the Federal and State Governments, international community as well as the host community for the conducive environment with relative peace and support towards their welfare.
He called on the United Nations to intervene on the over four years crisis in Southern Cameroon, saying they all wish to return to their ancestral homes where they too can contribute their quota to influence humanity.
High point of the event was the display of Cultural dance steps by both Nigerian and Cameroonian troupes.