✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

Cameroon, don’t throw out refugees

In a move that lacks both humanitarian passion and good neighbourliness, forty thousand residents of Rann, Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State who fled…

In a move that lacks both humanitarian passion and good neighbourliness, forty thousand residents of Rann, Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State who fled to Goura in Cameroon last month due to incessant Boko Haram attacks were sent back home two days ago.

Field Communication Officer of Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) in Maiduguri, Abdulkareem Yakubu, said on Wednesday that these Nigerian refugees “are now leaving Cameroon after being told to go home.” Abdulkareem quoted Stephanie Remion, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Goura as saying: “Today we are seeing people packing up their belongings and leaving for Rann after being told by Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities to leave.” MSF urged the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria to protect these vulnerable people and ensure they can seek safety where they choose and where they have access to essential means such as shelter, food and medical care.

Only last week, MSF had raised concern over the plight of Nigerian refugees who fled to Cameroon in January and February due to Boko Haram attacks.  While many of them had fled before the terrorists attacked Rann in January, they were unable to return home for more than a month and were exposed to untold hardship in Cameroon.

MSF’s Deputy Programme Manager for Emergencies, Dr Silas Adamou Moussa, was quoted as saying, “They left on foot very early in the morning – women, children and elderly people. When they fled, they had to leave the elderly and sick relatives behind. They brought along what possessions they could, but in Goura they have nothing to drink and nowhere to sleep. They have been left to fend for themselves. The refugees have been staying in a large, informal camp in Goura since late January. Most are sleeping in the open, even though it is sandstorm season and the temperature drops sharply at night. The uncertainty surrounding whether these refugees will be resettled or returned to Nigeria prevents humanitarian assistance from being as complete and effective as it should be.”

Moussa added that, “Thirty-five per cent of them were suffering from infectious respiratory diseases, followed by diarrhoea and conjunctivitis, all of which are related to the refugees’ poor living conditions.” United Nations High Commission for Refugees [UNCHR] also said on Tuesday that more than 60,000 Nigerian refugees were languishing in Cameroon as refuges, many of them living under appalling conditions.  Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said the Commission was making efforts to relocate many of the refugees from the border to Kousseri and provide basic relief aid like blankets, kitchen sets and soap.

It is these hapless refugees, who lived in Cameroon for a month without the most basic necessities, that are suddenly ordered to return to Nigeria. Earlier last month, the UN raised alarm that Cameroonian authorities were planning to forcibly repatriate 9,000 Nigerian refugees to Rann. They fled there to escape Boko Haram attacks and were so subjected to humiliation in Cameroon that UNHCR’s Filippo Grandi appealed to Yaounde to improve their condition.

It is these hapless and helpless people, together with thousands of others who joined them as IDPs, that are now being sent back to Nigeria at short notice and without regard for their safety and welfare. Pictures of the displaced persons fleeing to Cameroon last month were heart-rending. Nobody abandons his home and makes that kind of trip, with women, children and the aged in tow, unless he believes that his life was in grave danger. Indeed, the terrorist insurgents launched attacks in the area not long after the residents fled.

Desirable though it is for IDPs to resettle in their ancestral homes, these people must not be returned to their homes until the area has been totally cleared of terrorists and insurgents. We urge the Federal Government to intervene with Cameroon to allow them to stay for now and for our authorities to urgently deliver relief supplies to them. They should only return home when security is restored to the region.

Are you currently earning in Naira but need salary/earnings in Dollars? You have an opportunity to earn as much as $10,000 (₦9.2 million naira) monthly. Click here to get evidence.

%d bloggers like this: