The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said that Nigeria now has 3.3 million people displaced by various crises rocking the nation.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the stakeholders’ workshop on the ‘Best Practices for Stabilization in West Africa’, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Madam Finda Koroma, said the issue of displacement in the West Africa region needs to be addressed.

She said: “We also need to address the crisis of displacement. For instance, Burkina Faso has experienced an explosion in its forced displacement crisis because of militant Islamist group violence originating in Mali. Its current 1.2 million displaced population represents a nine-fold increase from 2019.

“Additionally, violent attacks by Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria, have resulted in the displacement of 2.5 million Nigerians, whilst kidnappings, extortion, and organised criminal attacks in the Northwest have displaced an additional 800,000 people. We need to find a way to return these communities to their homes safely”, Koroma said.

She disclosed that: “It is against this backdrop that ECOWAS Commission, in partnership with development organisations and governments, have embarked on an ambitious journey of introducing interventions designed to stabilise conflict affected areas, address the root causes of insecurity, and set them on the path for sustainable development through recovery and building community resilience.

“In partnership with the German government, we have established the ECOWAS Fund for Regional Stabilisation and Development in fragile member states. The objective of this programme is to stabilise conflict affected communities through provision of sustainable economic opportunities and essential services for conflict affected communities, construction or rehabilitation of key national infrastructure and capacity building for governance and security institutions.”

Koroma noted that ECOWAS Stabilisatiom programme was launched in The Gambia as a pilot project and in 2020, Guinea Bissau, Niger and Mali form part of the first phase of the regional project.

She revealed that the programme has so far committed about €45 million in the pilot and regional scale-up phases, stressing that: “The ECOWAS Commission has also contributed US$1 million on an annual basis since 2019.“

She said: “It is worth noting that border communities are often most vulnerable to conflict and that many of our own interventions will necessarily include a cross border element.

“Moreover, projects that are implemented on both sides of border communities foster regional integration which embodies the main mandate of ECOWAS.”

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