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AREF: Benson seeks skills acquisition for IDPs, refugees

The newly constituted Board of Trustees for the African Refugees Foundation (AREF) has been charged with the responsibility of getting entrepreneurs to train young refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on social skills development. Speaking at the corporate headquarters of the foundation in Lagos in commemorationn of World Refugees Day (WRD), the Honorary President, AREF, Mrs. Opral Benson, enjoined all to koin hands in rebuilding the image of the country She said there was need to halt the ugly situation as the whole world is watching the country’s actions and inactions. According to her, “our image as a nation is being demeaned at an alarming rate. If we stay aloof, it is at our peril. We can no longer afford to sleep with our two eyes closed.

The danger of violence has stayed inside our domain.” Mrs. Benson, who has been with AREF for three decades, added that it was ideal for all to appreciate AREF and know the contributions that the organisation had made throughout the years, adding that it was the direction everyone must go now to help all refugees that are in Nigeria. She said: “It is a matter of making sure that we do the best that we can to see that those people who are not able to be on their own, who are refugees, who have come from various places and need our assistance that we go ahead and assist them, and this was what it was all about when our founder established the foundation.”

On her part, Mrs. Josephine Smith, who retired four years ago as the head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Suboffice in Africa, said: “Based on my experience with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sub-office in Africa, I hope to be able to help AREF to move to the next level.”

Smith, as one of the board members of AREF, added: “With my own experience with the UNHCR, I will be able to guide and direct them, I will be able, hopefully, to train and teach whoever they are going to employ as a staff, so that they will be able to implement all the programmes and activities. “Before I retired four years ago, we were already working with the IDPs, especially in Maiduguri.

I know that at the moment, there are over 70, 000 refugees and IDPs in Nigeria, so if AREF is going to get involved with the issues of IDPs, it is a question of preparing a good project and be able to sell it to those who will donate and find it. They will also have to work with the National Commission for Refugees and Migrant.” The Canadian representative of AREF, Mr. Adeniyi Temewo, was in Nigeria to award people, who have sourced for excellence, contributed to the community and helped the marginalised including the refugee, internally displaced persons and the returnees.

Temewo, who was the President of Origo Intternational, interpreted as (Source or Origin) in Canada, and currently practicing Refugee Law, said: “I have been to more than 25 countries on the issue of refugee, presented papers in Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Nigeria. “I saw the limitation of the foundation because of my legal reasoning; I have my organisation incorporated under the Canadian Business Act.”

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