Xenophobia: Nigeria’s Early Warning Unit yet to take off, says Envoy

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The Nigerian High Commissioner in South Africa, Amb. Martin Cobham, says the Early Warning Unit (EWU) aimed at checking xenophobia in that country has not taken off.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama, and his South African counterpart had agreed to set up the unit in the wake of the xenophobic attacks in February.

Cobham told NAN in Pretoria, South Africa, on Sunday that the mission had written letters to the government on the need to convene the inaugural meeting of the unit.

He said that EWU was a mechanism to ensure communication between Nigerians ,other foreigners and the host authority

“We have the Nigerian community leadership, staff of the mission, officials of the host country and local communities who have face-off with our people,” he said.

He said that the South African government’s response to the letter was that it needed political guidance.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs came here, worked spiritedly with his South African counterpart to ensure the establishment of this Early Warning Unit.

“In fact, the minister left here in high spirits with the Minister of Interior, retired Gen. Danbanzzau.

“But regrettably, and till date, the host country is yet to call for the first meeting.

“I have written reminders but the excuse they adduce is that they need certain political guidance to bring about their officials who will cut across the relevant disciplines to be able to meet with ours,” he said.

Cobham said instituting this mechanism in time will go a long way to stem skirmishes in the volatile communities and also prevent large scale nation-wide violence by mobs.

“I want to reiterate the need, at the earliest time, to establish this Early Warning Unit.

“The mission will continue to crave the indulgence of the host authority to actualise this unit,” he said.

Cobham also said that the mission was on top of the situation and would work hard to ensure that the unit was established.

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