10 July 2017

Cameroon: Refugees Management - UNHCR Clarifies Public Opinion

Government is taking up full responsibility and a technical secretariat to manage refugees will soon be established in the country.

"We are discussing with government to take up the responsibility of checking eligibility of refugees. Refugees are here on the hospitality of Cameroon, UNHCR has no territory. This gives much importance to government. It will analyse the case of the individual refugee, check eligibility to the status of refugee, issue refugee card; no more UNHCR. In 2016 we signed an accord with the government to set up a technical secretariat to that effect. However, we retain our technical assistance. We encourage the government to be more generous, grant refugees' identity card recognised by security forces, permit refugees who are in camps to go out and look for jobs, help them to be self-reliant and enable them to be less dependent on government for assistance. Refugees have right to employment like any other citizen. But we don't want refugees to a burden to the government either. So as we are trying to help the refugees we are also trying to help the government." Those were the words of Lazare Etien Kouassi, Representative of the UNHCR in Cameroon during a recent news conference in Douala. The event, which was attended by Justin Ahadi Chiragane, Programme Officer, Mylene Ahounou, Senior Protection Officer, among others, was in reaction to an online news report that brings to light grievances by some refugees considered to be biased. About the financing, he pointed out that the budget required for protection, assistance and sustainable solutions to refugees and others under the responsibility of UNHCR amounts to US $ 94,779,489, to take care of internally displaced persons, Central African Refugees, Nigerian refugees, urban refugees and people at risk of statelessness. The budget identified for the needs of urban refugees in Douala and Yaounde in 2017 is US $ 5,4. Due to several difficulties, UNHCR focuses assistance on children between zero and five years and patients. The most problematic is urban refugees who continue to nurse grievances. "As concerns urban refugees, as at this day we have not yet received any assistance from donors; we have assisted in the voluntary repatriation of 13 CAR refugees," he revealed. By December last year, UNHCR had 595,801 persons, including 378,699 refugees and asylum-seekers. By June 1, 2017, it had some 9,213 persons (7,473 refugees and 1,740 asylum seekers) residing in Douala.

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