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WAHO decries population displacements by armed security crises


WAHO decries population displacements by armed security crises

The West African Health Organization (WAHO) says there has been population displacements, due to more or less generalised armed security crises on the continent.

It says this beyond the consequences of refoulement, linked to the migratory crisis which pushes African youths toward the countries of the North.

The Director-General of WAHO, Dr AISSI Melchior Athanase, said this on Monday in Abuja, at the Experts in Migration, Humanitarian Affairs and Health Specialists meeting.

The event was to elaborate a contingency plan for the management of displaced persons in the ECOWAS region.

The Voice Media Trust (VMT NEWS), reports that the five-day workshop will focus on the current situation of returning African migrants, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and asylum-seekers in the ECOWAS region.

According to Athanase, “In terms of figures, according to the report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, published on Aug. 25, 2022, during the UN General Assembly, there were approximately 38.3 million forcibly displaced people who needed protection and assistance in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Among them were nearly 25 million internally displaced persons, seven million refugees, 4.2 million returnees, one million stateless persons and 542,000 asylum seekers.

“Millions of citizens of our community space are also counted among these people,” he said.

He said that these upheavals were at the origin of the complexity of the situation in which national health systems must face the challenges of Universal Health Coverage as well as the preparation and response to health emergencies.

He explained that it was given all those elements that it became necessary to put in place a contingency plan to strengthen the capacities of national health systems and to frame the support action of WAHO and ECOWAS to Member States.

According to the WAHO Director-General, remarkable progress had been made with colleagues from the ECOWAS Department of Humanitarian and Social Affairs to support these vulnerable populations and coordinate the action of stakeholders.

The Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Madam Damtien Tchintchibidja, said it was the collective responsibility of ECOWAS as a regional body and regional health organization to respond to the various alerts by reflecting on the different aspects of those issues to have a thorough understanding.

Tchintchibidja also emphasised the need for ECOWAS, through the ongoing workshop, to come up as quickly as possible, with appropriate solutions before the problems got to a proportion that might be out of control.

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“The ECOWAS Commission is willing to go beyond assessment missions and current punctual humanitarian actions and is planning to work with WAHO.

It will work “to elaborate a contingency plan which will guide our actions in handling efficiently these humanitarian emergencies and their related health risks,” she said.

According to her, the nature of the issues requires proper planning, coordination, resource mobilization, as well as collaboration with Member States and Partners already working in humanitarian and health fields.

“The solutions will not come from a single Member State or one organization.

“it will take concerted and consistent efforts to address issues such as irregular migration, terrorist attacks, trans-border crimes, farmer-herder conflicts, human trafficking, or political violence.”

Other key stakeholders at the opening ceremony included the ECOWAS Commissioner for Humanitarian Development and Social Affairs, Prof. Fatou Sarr and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) Regional Representative and Head of Abuja, Momodou Lamin Fye.

According to the organiser, the workshop is the fact that the ECOWAS region is faced with recurring complex health crises.

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the region has recently been faced with the health consequences of multiple terrorist attacks, and these challenges require political, social, humanitarian and health responses.

Of recent, the region has equally been plagued by uncontrolled population movements and population displacements with a detrimental impact on security, social, environmental, or health aspects.

The 5-day regional workshop was planned to strengthen the contribution of the WAHO in supporting the national health systems of countries affected by terrorist threats.

It is envisaged to discuss the analysis of the situation in terms of health systems management in the context of security crisis in West Africa.

The development of an ECOWAS joint contingency plan was initiated by WAHO, through the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control (RCSDC) and other organs including the Department of Agriculture and Economic Affairs.

Others are the Department of Social and Humanitarian Affairs, to enhance national capacities and provide assistance to the displaced population.

The regional technical workshop is also aimed at exploring essential avenues and actions to complement the efforts of other community departments (contingency plan).

WAHO decries population displacements by armed security crises

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