Maiduguri — The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) country representative, Antonio Canhandula, have said that the Federal Government would recognise 20,485 Cameroonian refugees on a 'temporary protection basis'.
The refugees are temporarily sheltered in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue and Taraba states.
Canhandula disclosed in a statement in Maiduguri yesterday that the refugees were informed of government's decision to recognise them on a temporary protection basis.
According to him, individual documentation will be issued to those so far registered and recognised.
"Our mission was to access the needs of refugees and draft a protection strategy for the Cameroonian refugees' situation in Nigeria," he said.
He said there was the need to relocate the refugees from the Nigeria-Cameroon border areas, noting that there were reports of new arrival of Cameroonian refugees in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue and Taraba.
On the continued influx of refugees, Canhandula said: "The UN refugees' agency and national authorities will continue with their registration to track their influx into Nigeria.
"The presence of registration officers will improve tracking and registration of new arrivals from Cameroun. Registration officers will be able to cover Akwa Ibom and Taraba from their bases in Cross River and Benue at the same time."
He pointed out that besides the issuance of individual documentation for temporary protection of the refugees, 11,757 of them were given food and Non-Food Items (NFIs) in Cross River state in the first quarter of this year.
He added that 605 refugees were also provided with shelter during the same period.
He disclosed that the UNHCR requires $80.3 million, an equivalent of N28.91 billion to fully implement its operational plans this year.
Speaking, the Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ivara Esu, lamented that the 20485 refugees were more than have been registered so far and local resources have been overstretched since the refugees started trooping to the state.
Meanwhile, the UNHCR has completed arrangements to relocate 5,000 refugees to Anyake village in Benue State for the distribution of food and non-food items in camps.
Its regional and country representatives, Liz Ahua and Canhandula disclosed this yesterday in Maiduguri, Borno State.