Nigeria, UN and Cameroon Sign Agreement on Dignified Return of Boko Haram Victims
Officials from Cameroon, Nigeria and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday, signed an agreement on the repatriation of Boko Haram victims in Cameroon.
The agreement was signed following the arrival of representatives of the UNSC presently in Cameroon to assess the impact of the activities of terrorist group, Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region.
Before now, there had been many complaints that Cameroon was expelling Nigerians seeking refuge from Boko Haram’s attacks.
Cameroon had deported 517 Nigerians, including “313 asylum seekers”, escaping Boko Haram assaults between February 10 and 15 after their arrest, in total disregard of international conventions.
The new agreement however, sets up a legal framework for the voluntary return of the refugees “in safety and dignity”.
According to The Nation, Cameroon’s Territorial Administration and Decentralisation minister, Mr Emmanuel Rene Sadi, signed the deal on behalf of President Paul Biya’s government.
He said Cameroon would continue to ensure protection of Nigerian refugees on its territory and spare no efforts to help those who wish to return to Nigeria in accordance with international agreements.
More than 85,000 Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram are settled in Cameroon’s Far North region with 62,000 registered at the Minawao refugee camp, according to UNHCR.
UNHCR believes there are thousands more who had not been reached by aid agencies “because of the prevailing insecurity” in their host localities.
A UNHCR survey conducted at the Minawao camp in September 2016 reportedly showed 7 per cent of 9,300 sampled individuals were willing to return as soon as the situation in their areas of origin, predominantly in northeastern Nigeria, was conducive.
The Nigerian Army has in the last 2 years significantly recovered territories once held by Boko Haram and substantially forced a reduction in the number of attacks carried out by the group. Troops from Cameroon also played a major role in a regional effort to combat the group.
Residents of a number of hitherto deserted communities have returned home.
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