By Saidou Baldeh
Gambia Food and Nutrition Association, GAFNA, in collaboration with UNHCR, Saturday commemorated world refugee day at the NACCUG hall.
GAFNA is a national health and nutrition NGO established in 1986. Since its establishment, the NGO has enjoyed a very good working relationship with several local and international NGOs during which they managed to implement number of agricultural and other development related projects countrywide.
Addressing the gathering, the GAFNA executive secretary, Yusupha Gomez said his NGO has been partnering with UNHCR for a long time.
“During this period, we have implemented number of intervention projects geared towards the welfare of over 81 refugees residing in the Fonis and the Greater Banjul Area,” he said.
He said every year on June 20, they join the rest of the world to celebrate world refugee day.
“This event is a special moment for refugees, IDPs and stateless people to show solidarity with their host governments and communities, as they continue to reside outside their countries of origin, some of whom have missed their families for years,” he said.
He continued: “It is also a moment to have hope that being a refugee, or statelessness doesn’t take away your dignity as a human being. The commemoration of the day also demonstrates the strong bond of partnership and support that exists between UNHCR and other development partners in the drive to meeting the needs of refugees.”
Also speaking at the event, Louis Mendy, of GCR, reminded the gathering that refugees are equally as important as those living in their own countries.
“With the outbreak of Covid-19 both UNHCR and its partners and governments alike continue to support the most vulnerable refugees around the world. As part of our routine development dispensation with refugees, GAFNA has adopted a self-reliance and livelihood strategy that is refugee – Host driven based on annual needs assessment conducted prior to proving any development support. This straight recognize the reliance and dignity of the refugee and focuses more on graduating the refugee from assistance driven to self-reliance,” he added.
He said the livelihood resilience provides refugees with improved educational facilities, water supply for both domestic and vegetable gardening, cash voucher, start-up kits and vocational assistance to support livelihood activities to enhance economy empowered and self-reliance of refugee.
“It also provides support for refugees with scholarship package up to university level and other vocational tertiary institutes, sexual and gender-based violence and human rights capacity building activity and host of others,” he added.