Development Cable

UNHCR: Lagos has highest number of urban refugees in Nigeria

Maryam Abdullahi

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says Lagos state has the highest number of urban refugees in Nigeria.

John McKissick, UNHCR deputy country representative, spoke on Thursday during a symposium organised to commemorate 70 years of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention in Lagos.

McKissick said the 3,000 urban refugees have been recognisesd by the Lagos state government.

An urban refugee is a refugee who decided or was obliged to settle in an urban area rather than in a refugee camp in the country or territory where the person fled to.


“Lagos has the highest number of urban refugees in Nigeria, with over 3,000 who have been recognised by the government,” McKissick said.

“We have 2,000 asylum seekers in Nigeria and over 1,600 are in Lagos.

“These refugees come to Lagos for economic reasons and they’re able to start trades and get jobs in order to be self-reliant.”


He said the UNHCR will do everything possible to protect the rights of refugees in Nigeria.

The refugee convention protects the rights of displaced persons who had deserted their hometowns because of varying circumstances.

McKissick said a refugee has the obligation to enter a country, approach the government, and request asylum without delay.

He said there is a need to further develop the international refugee law in Nigeria, adding that it will provide protection for refugees within and outside Africa.

He said the rising rate of insecurity has put IDPs out of their homes, preventing them from becoming thriving members of their communities.

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