The ECOWAS Commission led by the Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr participated at the 74th Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme (ExCom) from the 9th to 13th October 2023, Geneva, Switzerland.
The Commissioner, Human Development&Social Affairs Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr in her statement at the session conveyed the warm greetings of the President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E. Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, to the High Commissioner of the UNHCR, H.E Filippo Grandi while acknowledging the work of UNHCR in providing protection and assistance to displaced population in West Africa. West Africa continues to witness an upsurge in violent conflicts triggering millions of displacements and worsening humanitarian needs and she expressed concern with the new UNHCR displacements figures for the region of nearly 7 million of which about 90 percent are internally displaced persons.
With respect, to the current challenges to humanitarian access in the region which has made the work of humanitarian actors and humanitarian operations more difficult and has further exacerbated the needs of the most vulnerable population in the region. She stated that the ECOWAS Commission, Member states, UN agencies, and other humanitarian partners are making effort to provide a secure and protected route for the delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance to people in need due to conflict or natural disasters. She also reiterated the ECOWAS Commission’s commitment to continue to advocate for humanitarian safe passage in the region. In addition, the ECOWAS Commission will continue its advocacy and engagement with all relevant stakeholders in the Member states for the domestication and implementation of the Kampala Convention on the protection and assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
At the margins of the ExCom, the Commissioner, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr accompanied by the Director, Humanitarian&Social Affairs, Dr. Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe met with the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Mr. Raouf Mazou and the UNHCR Regional Director, Bureau for West and Central Africa, Mr. Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde. In their exchanges, the Commissioner while noting that humanitarian issues occupy a central position in the work of the ECOWAS Commission, decried the effects the perennial conflicts was having on children in the region, stating that urgent steps must be taken to protect the mental health of the children in the face of unending violent conflicts and protracted humanitarian crisis. She however expressed hope in the work that ECOWAS, UNHCR and other partners are doing to find durable solutions including current negotiations to create access as well as political and diplomatic engagements to address the root causes of conflicts in the ECOWAS region.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).