No fewer than 9,800 refugees from Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, sheltering in Cameroon due to Boko Haram insurgency, would be repatriated to Nigeria, an official statement said Wednesday.
Isa Gusau, the media aide to Babagana Zulum, Governor of Borno State, said in a statement seen by HumAngle that plans were ongoing to take back the Borno-refugees. They fled their hometown in the wake of recurrent attacks from Boko Haram insurgents.
Borno is the worst-hit state of the decades-long Boko Haram insurgency in the country that has killed over 40,000 people and left millions displaced with thousands seeking refuge in neighbouring countries like Cameroon.
Exasperated by economic hardship and fragility, the humanitarian crisis has worsened security situations in the Sahel region with three other countries fraught with violent attacks—Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
According to the UNHCR, over 3.4 million people have been displaced, including over 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Northeastern Nigeria, over 684,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and 294,000 refugees in the four countries.
In 2015, leaders of the four countries met in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital to form the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to stem the tide of violent attacks.
They have since been in collaboration to tackle the humanitarian crisis, threatening to destabilise the Sahel region.
A meeting on the tripartite (repatriation) agreement signed between Nigeria, Cameroon, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), would hold in Marwa in far north Cameroon, according to the statement.
Gusau said that Zulum and officials of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development were already in Cameroon to facilitate the repatriation.
“Governor Zulum and officials of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development arrived in Marwa, Cameroon, to facilitate the repatriation of the refugees,” Gusau said.
“The 9,800 Nigerians constitute the first batch of citizens who have shown willingness to be evacuated and resettled in Bama and Banki towns.”
The media aide said the repatriation plan was necessitated after refugees at the Cameroonian refugee camp had requested the governor to facilitate their return to their home state during one of the governor’s visits in September 2019.