Officials from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and those from Adamawa and Borno states have said about 90,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon “are safe’’ and will soon return home.
This was the outcome of a meeting in Yola, Adamawa state, over plans to repatriate the refugees to their home country.
The refugees, mostly from Borno, were displaced by the seemingly unending Boko Haram insurgency.
Speaking at the meeting Monday, the Adamawa state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ahmad Sajoh, said plans for their evacuation had reached an advanced stage.
“Necessary arrangements have been made by the Adamawa state government to receive the refugees, who would pass through Adamawa transit camp from Minawawo camp in Cameroon.
“About 4,000 of the refugees are from Adamawa, and already agreement had been reached with some communities here in Adamawa to host about 1,500 refugees from Borno, who have indicated that they would want to remain in Adamawa,” he said.
The commissioner, who did not give the date for the commencement of the evacuation, said the refugees would be airlifted by the Nigerian Air Force.
Also in his remarks, the Borno delegation team leader, Kullima Kachalla, commended the government and people of Adamawa, “for the hospitality to the displaced persons from Borno since the insurgency started.
“Borno government is committed to ensuring the success of the evacuation exercise.”
Also speaking, head of UNHCR sub-office in Marwa, Cameroon, Mylene Ahounou, said: “The commission is waiting for final authorisation from the central government of Cameroon to embark on the exercise. We urge the Nigerian government to also reach out to Cameroon to facilitate action.”
A representative of the refugees, Ashigar Mohammed, said, “We are eager to return home.” He thanked Nigeria, Cameroon and UNHCR for coming to their aid.
The UNHCR is a United Nations programme with the mandate to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.
The Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria, according to the Borno state government, has led to about 100,000 deaths since 2009.
The terror group, which has been largely decimated since 2015, seeks to impose strict Islamic law in Northern Nigeria.