UN Cautions Against Forceful Return Of Nigerians From Cameroon
The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has cautioned against the forceful return of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon.
They fled their homes to avoid being captured by Boko Haram terrorists.
It said about 877 Nigerian refuges in Cameroon “were rounded up at 19:30 (7:30 p.m) local time and forcibly removed to Banki in Nigeria in desperate conditions”.
The agency gave the caution in a statement on Thursday after the return of the Nigerian refugees on Tuesday.
According to the agency the refugees were repatriated in 6 trucks provided by the Nigerian military and Cameroonian police from the Kolofata border site adding that most of them were children.
It added that it was alarmed over the forced return of refugees into northeast Nigeria.
Similar incidents had occurred earlier in the year.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted the agency as saying that repeated warnings had been made concerning the situation in which conditions did not yet exist to make returns safe and sustainable.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said: “The involuntary return of refugees must be avoided under any circumstance.
“In addition, returns to Nigeria put a strain on the few existing services and are not sustainable at this time.
“A new emergency, just as the rainy season is starting, has to be avoided at all costs.”
It has also raised concerns for children that have been chased out of their Nigerian homes by members of Boko Haram that have upheld a push for the establishment of an Islamic State and also put an end to Western education in the region.
“We also understand that several dozen refugees, fearing that they would be returned against their will, escaped and went into hiding,” he said.
The UNHCR reiterated that insecurity in the northeast prevented refugees from returning to their places of origin with many of them ending up in Banki where more than 45,000 internally displaced persons are barely accommodated.
It also repeated its appeal to the authorities in Cameroon to allow newly arrived Nigerian refugees to reach Minawao camp, where about 58,000 refugees are currently being hosted, with another 33,000 living in nearby villages.