ECOWAS reaffirms its commitment to dynamic and fruitful cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)17 Oct, 2022
The ECOWAS Commission actively participated in the 73rd session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held from 10 to 14 October 2022, in Geneva (Switzerland) during which the Commissioner in charge of Human Development and Social Affairs, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, reaffirmed the commitment of the West African Regional Organization to a dynamic and fruitful cooperation with the High Commissioner of the United Nations Refugee Agency.
The 73rd session of the UNHCR raised serious concerns on the over one hundred million people forcibly displaced in the world fuelled by COVID-19, climate emergency, conflict, energy and cost of living crisis. In addition, the World is struggling to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to those in desperate need in the face of dwindling resource gaps.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for UNHCR, Member State delegates, partners, and NGOs to share their experiences on the policy and practical approaches used by host States and communities to address the plight of refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers, and to eradicating statelessness.
In her address during the general debate, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr highlighted some of the ECOWAS Commission’s efforts to address the growing humanitarian challenges in the region, especially in the Sahel, and urged for increase support for food, shelter, water, and sanitation, including mental health and psychosocial support for vulnerable populations in need.
Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr also participated in several events at the margins of the Session including as a panellist at the African Union (AU) – UNHCR High-level Side-event on the outcomes of the AU Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference, 25-27 May 2022, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The Commissioner in her discourse highlighted some of the interventions of the ECOWAS Commission in tackling the root causes of the growing humanitarian challenges in the region induced by conflicts and the impact of climate change. She commended the AU on the initiatives to operationalise the Declaration of the Malabo Humanitarian Summit and the AU Humanitarian Agency and ended by stating that the “solutions will come from African Unity.”
Commissioner Sarr also held a bilateral meeting with Ms. Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection in which she acknowledged and commended the UNHCR for the support to the ECOWAS Commission in the elaboration of a 4 – year Regional Action Plan on the Global Compact Refugees to be validated by ECOWAS Experts and Ministers in October and November 2022 respectively, in fulfilment of ECOWAS Global Refugee Forum (GRF) pledges.
She urged UNHCR to continue to support ECOWAS in its efforts at implementing its pledges and that of the Member States.
Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr – Commissioner Human Development and Social Affairs was accompanied on the mission by, Dr. Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission.