Matawalle leads effort to actualize UNMAS in North East

…FG working to resettle IDPs, others

 

The Minister of State for Defence Dr. Bello Muhammed Matawalle, is leading the Federal Government’s effort in the actualization of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) mandate in the North East of Nigeria.

 

Accordingly, in 2019 the the Federal Government Nigeria constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to develop a National Mine Action Strategy and a work plan for the survey and clearance of anti-personnel mines in the North Eastern States affected by the Boko Haram Insurgency.

 

According to a statement signed by Director (Information and Public Relations), Henshaw Ogubike, membership of the Committee are Ministry of Defence (as Chair), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Emergency Management Agency, Northeast Development Commission and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs.

 

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is a service located within the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations that specializes in coordinating and implementing activities to limit the threat posed by mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices.

 

It was initially deployed to Nigeria in the 2018 to provide technical support in areas of coordination, planning and technical advice and support to the humanitarian communities and Government but it was left after years of inaction.

 

But with the coming of Dr. Matawalle as Defence Minister of State the issue has been given attention from the Federal Government in synergy with the Government of Borno State.

 

The Representative of the United Nations had a meeting with the Minister of State for Defence late last year where he reassured the delegation that the Federal Government was working out modalities to resettle returnees and the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria to a safe and better living condition.

 

Matawalle said that Federal Government would partner with UNMAS in working out a workable solution in reintegrating IDPs and farmers into society for better life. “We need to redesign action plan for the IDP returnees and farmers to go back to their farms,” he said

 

He said that there was the need for Federal Government to provide essential technical support for the establishment of a national mine action centre in the North East and extend it to North West where incidence of insurgency is still prevalent.

 

He said: “Such center will afford the IDPs the opportunity to return to their Communities and have access to quality education.”

 

Through the intervention of Dr. Matawalle, Borno State government provided official and residential building for the activities of UNMAS to start in the North East being an epic center of insurgency.

 

This bold step of the Minister of Defence and Borno State Governor has further demonstrated that the Federal Government is committed in providing support to hazardous areas affected by either war or activities of terrorism.

 

“There is the need to conduct Technical Surveys to identify hazardous areas that need to be safe before any other activities can take place,” the Minister said.

 

While commending the efforts of the Governor, the Minister highlighted some of the benefits to include; assistance for the IDPs, risk education and advocacy, clearance of the identified hazardous areas and stockpile destruction.

 

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