UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos meets Nigerian and ECOWAS leadership in Abuja
(Abuja/New York, 6 July 2011): Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos today met in Abuja with Nigerian and ECOWAS officials to discuss the humanitarian situation in Nigeria and West Africa as well as opportunities to enhance OCHA’s cooperation with Nigeria and the regional organization.
“We want to build on the partnership we have developed with Nigeria to make sure that Nigeria is even better prepared in case something unexpected happens,” said Ms. Amos, who also praised the role the country is playing in the region, both within ECOWAS and through its help to neighboring countries.
Ms. Amos met with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Martin Homoibi. She noted the assistance provided last year by OCHA during the lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara state. She also emphasised OCHA’s readiness to continue to support Nigeria, including through the establishment of a Humanitarian Support Unit in the country. Ms. Amos expressed her appreciation for Nigeria’s support for major emergencies in the world, including through its participation to UN peacekeeping missions and its voluntary contribution to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Nigeria, which benefited from CERF funding in 2009 and 2010, this year made a US$ 100,000 contribution to the Fund.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator met the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Adrienne Diop, with whom she had an in-depth discussion on how OCHA could assist ECOWAS in its current efforts to establish a regional humanitarian policy to better respond to emergencies within a regional framework. Ms. Amos pointed that much of OCHA’s cooperation with ECOWAS takes place through the OCHA Regional Office for Western and Central Africa – ROWCA - based in Dakar, Senegal; she encouraged ECOWAS to enhance its cooperation, including through participation in and contribution to regional meetings organized by OCHA and partners. She offered to send an OCHA technical mission in order to review all potential areas of cooperation.
Ms. Amos held additional technical discussions with Mr. Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi, the Director of the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). “It is critical to have a strategy on how to help people in need immediately, but also to act in the long term so they can better deal with recurrent problems such as floods,” Ms. Amos said.
ECOWAS is currently hosting a regional Ministerial Conference on Humanitarian Assistance and Internal Displacement in West Africa in Abuja. Ms. Amos underscored her support for the Kampala Convention, the first legally binding regional instrument in the world to impose obligations on states to prevent internal displacement and assist those displaced due to a wide range of causes. Ms. Amos urged all African States to ratify it quickly in order to ensure it can be promptly implemented.
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