With more than 32,000 people forced to flee their homes everyday around the world due to strife, violence and the sad cycle of war, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria James F. Entwistle says that “regardless of efforts to support refugee situations around the world, the biggest part remains to do everything possible to resolve the underlying factors that cause refugee populations.” He spoke as a guest speaker at the closing ceremony commemorating activities marking the 2014 World Refugee Day in Abuja, on June 23. The event was organized by the National Commission for Refugees Migration and Internally Displaced Persons, in partnership with major humanitarian stakeholders in Nigeria, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Sharing his personal experiences with refugee situations in a diplomatic career of over 33 years, Ambassador Entwistle said refugee issues are much more than an abstract policy issue. “I’ve had the privilege of being directly involved in refugees issues during my diplomatic career and they have been some of the most rewarding parts of my career.”
He said the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program is the largest in the world, and has welcomed more than 3 million refugees into the United States since 1975. He noted that President Obama in 2013 set the ceiling for refugee’s arrivals at 70,000 and at the end of the year, the final total included 69,927 refugees from 65 countries. That same year, the U.S. resettled nearly 16,000 Africans refugees into the United States.
Other speakers at the event included Senator Clever Marcus Ikisikpo, chairman, Committee on Special Duties at the Senate, Beni Lar, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Human Rights, andMinister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki. There were also many members of the diplomatic community in attendance.
On the security situation in North-East of Nigeria, Ambassador Entwistle said the United States remains “a friend and partner of Nigeria, and we stand with Nigeria during this crisis.”