CAPE TOWN – Nigeria’s Federal Government has announced that all preparations to repatriate thousands of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon, Niger and Chad are in place.
The announcement was made by officials in Abuja on Wednesday during the meeting of the technical working group (TWG) on repatriation of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon, according to Vanguard News, a daily newspaper based in Lagos.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the group to remain steadfast in carrying out the assignment of returning Nigerian refugees from the three countries, said Basheer Mohammed, federal commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI).
He affirmed that arrangements were already in top gear towards actualising the planned return of the refugees, commencing with those in Cameroon from February 27.
He revealed that the TWG and the Cameroonian authorities had met in Maroua, Cameroon, from February 4 to10 to plan strategies for executing the voluntary repatriation of the refugees from Minawao Camp.
Nigerian Borno State governor Babagana Umara Zulum and officials of the federal ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development arrived in Maroua, the capital of Far North Region, last week.
According to the officials, the first group of at least 9,800 will be repatriated from more than 46,000 Nigerian refugees in Minawao Camp in northern Cameroon.
The Minawao refugee site has been hosting Nigerian refugees who fled violence in the neighbouring country since 2014. In total, Cameroon hosts more than 100,000 Nigerian refugees, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Borno government said the 9,800 Nigerians constitute the first batch of citizens who have shown willingness to be evacuated to resettlement houses built by the Borno government in Bama and Banki towns.
The Boko Haram insurgency has displaced nearly 2.4 million people in the Lake Chad Basin.
Meanwhile, Cameroon also battles with mass internal displacements, while thousands flee to seek refuge in neighbouring countries due to armed attacks in parts of the country.
The country’s anglophone North-West and South-West regions have been severely affected by violence between government forces and armed groups seeking to separate the area from Cameroon since late 2016.