Nigeria grants protection status to Cameroonian refugees

The UNHCR and ECOWAS country representative, Mr. Antonio Canhandula has said that 20,485 Cameroonian refugees are to be recognized on a “temporary protection basis” by Federal Government.

The refugees are temporarily sheltered in the Southeast states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue and Taraba in the Northeast region of the country.

Canhandula in a statement issued on Thursday in Maiduguri, disclosed that the refugees were informed of government’s decision to recognize them on a temporary protection basis.

According to him, individual documentation will be issued to those registered and recognized so far.

“Our mission was to access the needs of refugees and draft a protection strategy for the Cameroonian refugees’ situation in Nigeria,” he said.

He added that there is the need to relocate the refugees away from the Nigeria-Cameroon border areas.

He noted that there are continuing reports of new arrivals of Cameroonian refugees in the Southeast states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue and Taraba.

On continued refugees’ influx, Canhandula said: “The UN refugees’ agency and national authorities will continue with registration to keep track of influx into Nigeria.

“The presence of registration officers will permit improved tracking and registration of new arrivals from Cameroon.

“Registration officers will be able to cover Akwa Ibom and Taraba states from their bases in Cross River and Benue states at the same time.”

He said besides the issuance of individual documentation for temporary protection of refugees, 11,757 of them were reached with food and Non-Food Items (NFIs) distribution in Cross River state in first quarter of 2018.

He added that 605 refugees were also provided with shelter during the same period.

According to him, the UN refugees’ agency requires $80.3 million (N28.91 billion) to fully implement its operational plans this year.

The Deputy Governor of Cross River, Joseph Flomo also lamented that “There are more refugees than have been registered so far (20,485) and local resources have been overstretched since the commencement of refugees’ influx.”

About By Kwiza Mbumbeh, Maiduguri

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