The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has an administrative department in charge of the livelihoods and local integration of refugees. In West Africa, Laura Buffoni is in charge of such department. On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, she was visited Songhai Centre in Porto Novo Ouando.

The objective of the visit by Laura Buffoni greatly encouraged by Liz Kpam Ahua, UNHCR West African Regional Director, is to get inspired by Songhai model to initiate small projects that will help refugees to truly bloom. As Father Godfrey Nzamujo, the director of Songhai Centre also strongly called: “If we could turn all the refugee camps into green rural cities, we would solve several problems at a time “. Liz Kpam Ahua and his staff fully agree with this wish of Fr Godfrey Nzamujo, since after the visit to Songhai on 9 September 2015 by the Regional Director of UNHCR in West Africa, several delegations from the United Nations agency have visited this centre of training, production, research in integrated and sustainable agriculture keeping her promise to make Songhai known to all her collaborators so that they are inspired to initiate development projects for refugees.

During her visit on Tuesday, February 16, Laura Buffoni acknowledged that Songhai is a great project that the UN refugee agency wishes to replicate in refugee camps. But UNHCR being a humanitarian agency, its policy is much more oriented towards “emergency responses and legal protection” for refugees, she said. This makes the regional representation of the institution in West Africa not to have enough means to achieve its “dream”. She stressed that the UN humanitarian organization remains convinced that the realization of this dream will get the refugees busy and empower them. This also motivated more to seek partnerships to enable them start with a partial replication of Songhai model. Talks with Fr Nzamujo focused on this topic and Laura Buffoni, together with the two representatives of the UNHCR office in Cotonou, departed Songhai, very excited.


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