3, March 2017
Yaounde, Abuja and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have signed a tripartite agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees settled in Cameroon. The agreement signed in Yaoundé concerns the 84,325 Nigerian refugees who have fled the exactions of the Islamist sect Boko Haram. These refugees are currently living in the Far-North region of Cameroon. Of these, 60,895 are settled in the camp located at Minawao, created on 2 July 2013. A recent profiling by the organization in charge of migration, registered some 20 416 other refugees, who live with foster families. The High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are thousands of other Nigerians who fled the Boko Haram violence but due to insecurity could not be registered.
Two UN surveys carried out between April and September 2016 among refugees at the Minawao camp on return intentions revealed that 70 per cent of the 9,300 sampled wanted to return to their areas of origin, as soon as the situation permits. Only 27% want to stay in Cameroon. The two sides agreed to provide clear and precise information on the situation of their return areas, particularly in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa (Northeastern Nigeria).
Cameroonian authorities say, it is not a forced repatriation, “the Government of Cameroon will continue to ensure the protection of Nigerian refugees on its territory and will spare no effort to help those who wish return to Nigeria in accordance with international agreements, “said René Emmanuel Sadi, the Cameroonian Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization.
We gathered that Abuja was pleased with the agreement, “Nigeria is pleased to be part of this agreement by stressing the importance of working together to bring about a lasting solution to the situation of refugees, who are our fellow citizens . As a government, we will remain committed to ensuring a conducive atmosphere to facilitate the return of our fellow citizens in safety and dignity and in accordance with the principles of international protection, “said Lieutenant-General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazu, the Nigerian Minister of the Interior.
For his part, the High Commissioner’s Special Representative, Kouassi Lazare Etien, said he was satisfied with the agreement. He further pointed out that the agreement reveals a real desire of Cameroon and Nigeria to find a durable solution for refugees who are willing to return safely and in dignity with the support of the UN.
Chi Prudence Asong