The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)'s Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Antonio Jose Canhandula, has commended the Nigerian government on its handling of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria.
Canhandula gave this commendation while speaking at the joint valedictory press conference by the UNHCR and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, NCFRMI, in Abuja on Thursday.
No fewer than 40,000 Cameroonian refugees were registered in Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Cross River and Taraba States in Nigeria as at July 2019 following the crisis in some parts of the country.
While noting that Nigeria's treatment of refugees ranked best in Africa, Canhandula added that; "the way we have received and treated the Cameroonian refugees is the most fascinating thing to me.
"In this country, the government said they should not be isolated in the camps but they have been settled within the communities."
He said the way Nigeria took the refugees in will allow them to settle in, fend for themselves and contribute to their host communities, adding that "with time, the refugees will no longer require assistance."
Speaking of his three-year tenure in Nigeria, he acknowledged that though, efforts had been channeled towards meeting the needs of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, more needed to be done going forward.
"We need to come to solution of this displacement. I'm leaving but we have not solved the problem," Canhandula said.
Speaking earlier, the Federal Commissioner of the NCFRMI, Sen. Basheer Garba Mohammed congratulated Canhandula on the successful end of his stewardship in Nigeria.
Sen. Mohammed said: "Indeed, not only did he make a positive impact in the lives of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced Persons, he went beyond the call of duty to show an uncommon brotherhood in the discharge of his duty."
He thanked Canhandula for the role of UNHCR and his personal commitment to the setting up of the Nigerian/ Cameroonian Governments and UNHCR Tripartite Commission for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon.