Benin: UN Extends Aid to Refugees in Benin

Benin: UN Extends Aid to Refugees in Benin

School kits, fertilizer, medicines, household items, sanitary pads donated

After her husband and 18-year-old son were killed by armed groups in Burkina Faso, Talari Onadja and her daughter fled her hometown of Pama to seek refuge in Tanguiéta, northwest of neighbouring country, Benin.

Ms. Talari, like many other families, left everything behind and are now receiving humanitarian assistance from the United Nations.

In September, more than 9,000 refugees in Atakora received various items donated by the UN agencies in Benin, working with the government.

Timely assistance

Dignity kits for menstrual hygiene, school kits for the start of the 2023-2024 school year, essential household items, fertilizer, equipment for social protection centres, medicines, and medical equipment, to ensure continuity of essential health services for the displaced people were part of the donated items valued at about $2 million dollars.

The humanitarian assistance was part of an immediate response by the UN following a request by the government of Benin to help address the needs of the displaced people in northwest region, particularly in Atakora, Tanguiéta and Matéri.

“I was delighted to receive the hygiene and kitchen kits. They came at just the right time, as my family and I were forced to flee in August empty-handed. The circumstances under which we left the town of Pama prevented us from taking any belongings, even clothes, when we fled,” said Ms. Talari.

Sanitary pads

Thanks to the support of the UN and its partners, an association of women refugees is making reusable sanitary towels in Matéri, the second largest refugee-hosting town in northwest Benin. The women have shown resilience and creativity in making these pads to uphold the dignity of the displaced women and girls.

Cynthia Yacouba, a mother of four and one of the women in the association, made no secret of her delight at the importance of being able to make their own sanitary towels.

“Today, I’m very happy. Instead of using money to buy sanitary pads, I can make my own cheaply and save the money to help my children,” said Ms. Yacouba.

The official handover of the kits and equipment to refugees in Matéri and Tanguiéta was led by the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Salvator Niyonzima.

Various UN agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were also present.

For the Resident Coordinator, this was the crowning of efforts undertaken since June 2023 by the UN to support refugees and displaced people living in a situation where insecurity threatens social cohesion in Atacora.

It is in addition to the humanitarian and development initiatives already underway. It is part of the overall support provided by the UN in Benin.

As envisaged in the 2023-2026 Cooperation Framework, the UN system is already active in areas such as education, health, adaptation to climate change, inclusive economic growth, governance, and social cohesion as it moves towards sustainable development,” said the Resident Coordinator.

UN presence

Benin’s Minister of Interior and Public Security, Alassane Seïdou, expressed his gratitude to the United Nations System, underlining the importance of these initiatives not only in Atacora, but also in Alibori.

While thanking the UN system for its mobilization and assistance, especially to help children, women, including pregnant women, and the elderly, Mr. Seïdou, underlined the importance of these initiatives not only in Atacora, but also in Alibori.

“The school kits will help many children in the start of the 2023-2024 school year,” said Mr. Seidou.

The Minister also welcomed the medical equipment and medicines donated, noting that they would strengthen the capacities of health centre to better care for displaced people.

The Spokesperson for the beneficiaries urged the government and the UN to continue providing humanitarian assistance, expressing the wish for a return to normalcy and the resumption of their daily activities.

“We thank all the partners who have supported the government of Benin and the UN to provide this assistance,” he said.

The UN reaffirmed its commitment to vulnerable populations and to working with the government and local stakeholders towards sustainable development.