9 April 2015

Nigeria: 60,000 Nigerian Refugees in Cameroon - UN

Photo: D. Mbaiorem/UNHCR
Nigerian refugees at the Minawao camp in Cameroon's Far North region.

Lagos — The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has said that it plans to relocate Nigerian refugees from Kousseri, a city in Far North Province of Cameroon, to a camp where healthy shelter is being provided for them.

UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, disclosed this in Geneva on Tuesday, saying the relocation convoys from the border to Kousseri will begin on Wednesday.

He said following screening procedures, the UNHCR would organise daily transfers of 2,000 refugees to the camp.

At Minawao, the UNHCR would provide basic relief aid, like blankets, kitchen sets and soap.

The camp is currently hosting 32,621 Nigerian refugees.

Edwards said Cameroon's Far North region had seen a new level of refugee influx over the weekend due to clashes in North Eastern Nigeria between regional military forces and insurgents, Boko Haram.

According to him, Cameroonian authorities said so far about 16,000 Nigerian refugees had entered the country.

The Nigerian military, in early February, said it would begin a six-week onslaught against the terrorists that have taken over Northeastern Nigeria.

The UNHCR said due to this operation, the agency did not have access to border areas where refugees have arrived.

The agency noted that together with humanitarian partners, including the World Food Programme, International Medical Corps, IEDA Relief and public concern, the UNHCR was ready to conduct screening at the transit site and to provide emergency assistance in health, nutrition, water, and food for new arrivals.

Edwards said the Cameroonian government has continued to provide critical escorts for humanitarian and relocation convoys to ensure the physical protection of refugees and humanitarian actors.

He said the UNHCR was discussing setting up a second refugee camp, further away from the insecure border because of the progressing security situation in the area.

He said that once screening was completed, the relocation would bring the total number of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon to nearly 66,000, of whom 41,571 refugees had already been verified by UNHCR.

Responding to reports that insurgents were impersonating refugees, Edwards said being a common situation in conflict situation, the UNHCR had implemented screening mechanisms to separate people.

He said a refugee must not be a combatant as clearly specified in the Refugee Convention.

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