ECOWAS: 20 Million Persons in West Africa Need Humanitarian Assistance

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ECOWAS: 20 Million Persons in West Africa Need Humanitarian Assistance

CHIGOZIE  AMADI

The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Omar Alieu Touray, has said that an estimated 20 million persons from countries in the subregion require urgent humanitarian aid.
This was just as ECOWAS, the private tourism sector and other stakeholders have unveiled strategic initiatives aimed at boosting tourism across the sub-region
According to Touray, about three million out of the distressed population are currently languishing in Internally displaced persons camps (IDPs) with poor health and welfare facilities.
He blamed the humanitarian crisis on instability created by terrorist attacks, political instability and other forms of insecurity in these countries.
Speaking at the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Health Ministers of ECOWAS in Abuja, Touray said that emergency situations arising from health, insecurity and climate change disasters are having a great impact on the effort to realise the goal of economic and social integration with the region.
He said: “As you are all aware, our region is currently facing  numerous challenges including poverty, insecurity, political instability all of which has resulted in migration, displacement of persons and communities. Indeed in the ECOWAS region, it is estimated that more than 20 million people need humanitarian aid out of which more than 3 million are internally displaced persons. This is caused mainly by the activities of terrorist groups and  political instability.”
Trouray said that the fundamental objectives of ECOWAS is not only to build an economic community of its member states but to improve the living standards of the citizens.
However, the leader of the regional economic bloc said that certain factors have limited the attainment of the set goal of ECOWAS.
For instance, he said that during the outbreak of COVID-19,  the solidarity of the community was put to test.
He said that the resultant travel restrictions and closure of some borders tended to curtail the commercial and social activities within the subregion.
He said the ministers of Health from the region rose to the occasion and were able to arrest the situation and  bring it under control.
“This is clear evidence that health insecurity can compromise every effort of ECOWAS to ensure free movement of persons thereby jeopardizing the whole essence of regional integration. In addition the collective pursuit of health is necessary for a healthy population as well as productivity and consumption and by extension – wealth creation, ” he said.
The ECOWAS boss said that it was for this reason that the leaders of the subregion decided to establish the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to help to deal with health issues and to play an instrumental role in the regional integration scheme.

He said that WAHO has been in the forefront of vigorous interventions to confront the various challenges.

According to him, WAHO had developed a regional strategy in 2023  for the management of the internally displaced persons and the health of refugees within the ECOWAS region.

He described the theme of the conference – ‘Quality Healthcare’ as most apt, and expressed the hope that the outcome of the Assembly’s meeting will contribute to an enhanced healthcare across

While welcoming the Health ministers from the ECOWAS subregion, Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, said the subregion is currently faced with healthcare challenges that needed to be addressed in order to ensure the well-being of the citizens.

He listed health challenges facing the subregion, to include; poor reproductive, maternal and child health indices .

He also said that the region still bore the burden of rising cases of Non communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

“Despite our efforts, the region still has an unfinished business in terms improvement on reproductive maternal and child health and nutrition outcomes in our subregion. Non communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer are on the rise, posing significant burden on our hearts systems. Additional issues like substance abuse in some areas are of critical health concern that require our attention.

“Also disparities in healthcare access and quality between our urban and rural areas remain a pressing issue for us. Many of our citizens especially those from remote and underserved communities still face barriers to access to timely and affordable healthcare services,” he said.

Pate said that addressing these disparities is essential to achieving universal health coverage and ensuring that no one is left behind.

The minister further said that the impact of climate on the healthcare situation in West Africa is real and is increasingly becoming a major challenge

Meanwhile, ECOWAS, the private tourism sector and other stakeholders have unveiled strategic initiatives aimed at boosting tourism across the region.

The strategies were contained in a communique issued following a 3-day high level strategic dialogue between ECOWAS, West African private sector tourism stakeholders and experts in Abuja on Thursday.

According to the communique, the meeting recommended that the private tourism sector should formulate a request for funding for the activities of ECOTOUR 19-29 Country Operational Units to the ECOWAS Commission.

It was also recommended that the private tourism sector should generate funds from Technical and Financial Partners (TFPs) with a view to implementing a robust and sustainable regional tourism for economic growth.

The communique also advised the private tourism sector to identify and seek the support of technical and financial partners (TFPs) to support the private tourism sector, practitioners were also asked to initiate and sign a partnership agreement among themselves and the ECOWAS Commission.

The communique also recommended that ECOWAS Member States should provide national classification commissions and structures in charge of resource regulation.

It also urged them to organize awareness-raising sessions for industry stakeholders on the new regulations.

Also recommended is the organisation of capacity building sessions for national classification commissions and regulatory structures. by the ECOWAS Commission.

It also recommended that Member States should establish harmonized tourism satellite accounts, as well as transmit and make available the new regulations for their individual countries.

The communique also recommended that the ECOWAS Commission should conduct a mid-term evaluation of ECOTOUR 19-29.

The communique was signed by the Director, Hospitality and Travel Trade, Nigerian Tourism Development Authority.

Mrs. Ruth Ndam, President, Hotel Ranking Commission of Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Boka Georges, and Director General of Tourism of Guinea Bissau, Mr. Massa Cande.

In the meantime, arrangements have been concluded for the Second Extraordinary Session of the Sixth Legislature of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to be held in Kano, Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement by the Media Office of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Jibrin Barau, yesterday.

The statement explained that the Second Extraordinary Session, according to the ECOWAS Parliament, will be held at the Bristol Hotel in Kano, between the 20th and 25th May, 2024.

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, attended the inaugural session of the Sixth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament held on April 4, this year.

Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Barau emerged as the First Deputy Speaker of the assembly during the inauguration.

The event, according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the Deputy President of the Senate on Media and Publicity, Ismail Mudashir, will attract parliamentarians from Nigeria, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’ Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Republic of Togo.

The ECOWAS Parliament, also known as the Community Parliament, is one of the institutions of the ECOWAS. It is the Assembly of Peoples of the Community, serving as a forum of dialogue, consultation and consensus for representatives of the people of West Africa to promote integration.

The ECOWAS Parliament which was established under Articles 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS revised treaty of 1993, is composed of 115 seats.