The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) has commenced the process of repatriating 4,982 Borno State’s refugees in Cameroon.
A statement on Sunday by the Special Adviser (Media), NCFRMI, Sadiq Abdullateef, said 3,224 of the refugees would return to Banki town; and 1,758, to Bama, both in Borno State.
He said this followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that all Nigerian refugees in Cameroon be immediately returned home safely to a life of dignity and pride.
He said NCFRMI Federal Commissioner, Senator Basheer Garba, weekend met with Cameroonian officials and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Maroua.
“The meeting, which is a follow-up of meetings in 2017 initiated by the then commissioner and now Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, also led to the successful return of 134 Nigerians from Cameroon.”
Garba, who is also the chairman of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of Nigeria on the Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerian Refugees, said the meeting was a forerunner to the Tripartite Commission (TC) meeting billed to hold this week.
Garba, represented at the meeting by the commission’s Director of Refugee and Migration, Tai Hassan Ejibunu, said this week’s meeting would provide the avenue for officials of both counties to discuss modalities for repatriating the several thousands of Nigerian refugees at Minawao Camp in Cameroon.
“Therefore, I would urge officials of both countries to be open in their discussions, while putting into consideration, the interest of the refugees, following international best practices and the guidance of our technical partner, the UNHCR Offices, both in Nigeria and Cameroon.”
He thanked the government and people of Cameroon for showing love and hospitality to the Nigerian refugees, saying they had exemplified the true African spirit, character and culture of good neighborliness and being fellow African brother’s keeper.
Garba said the country’s acceptance to host the Joint TWG was a further attestation of the spirit of Umbuntu ‘You Live, So I Live’ engrained in the psyche and the blood streams of Africans”.
He also thanked the UNHCR Country Representative in Nigeria, Chansa Kapaya and her staff for their contributions, assistance and collaboration to ensure that discussions were held always on how best to repatriate “these Persons of Concerns (PoCs)” to Nigeria”.
“The governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, is a governor that has demonstrated uncommon passion in ensuring that the citizens of his state in Cameroon are repatriated home in safety and given a new lease of life,” he said.