Cameroon soldiers check a truck on the border between Cameroon and Nigeria

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says 16,970 Cameroonian asylum seekers have been registered in Nigeria since the influx started in Sept. 2017.

Mr Hanson Tamfu, External Relations Officer, UNHCR, Nigeria, made this known in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

According to Tamfu, UNHCR registered 2,113 asylum seekers in Cross Rivers state between Feb. 7 and Feb. 19 in addition to the already registered asylum seekers from Sept. 2017.

He explained that nearly all the asylum seekers fled Cameroon due to the ongoing standoff between the Cameroon Government and Anglophone pro-independent movement (North-West and South-West) of the country.

Tamfu disclosed that women and children still account for more than 75 per cent of those registered.

He said that from Feb. 14 to Feb.17, a joint rapid inter-agency needs assessment led by UNHCR took place in Boki, Ikom, Obanlinku and Akamkpa Local Government Areas in Cross River state.

According to him, food, non-food items, shelter, health and education issues were found to be the core priority gaps with discrimination, lack of documentation, trauma from effects of flight and lack of livelihood opportunities as additional findings.

Tamfu said that the UNHCR and its main government counterpart, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI), have intensified their efforts to enhance the registration process by recruiting and training additional personnel.

He said that the trained personnel have already been deployed to Cross River and Benue states.

“The joint team will start the process of registering asylum seekers in Abande and Itauve, Kwande LGA in Benue state.

“UNHCR has started the compilation of a database for unaccompanied and separated children to begin the process of family reunification.

“Discussions are taking place between UNHCR and the Government of Nigeria to define the approach of recognising the asylum seekers – whether through group or individual Refugee Status Determination.

“The Government inter-ministerial/inter-agency, National Eligibility Committee (NEC) is due to meet on 27 February to review the procedure for recognition.

“This followed UNHCR’s request for consideration in line with international standards to safeguard the rights of those fleeing the crisis and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance in safety and dignity,’’ Tamfu said.

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Tamfu said that last week, the UNHCR and its partner, Rhema Care, carried out the second distribution of food and non-food items (NFIs) in Agborkim and Ikom.

He said that the exercise continued this week at Uphill Ranch in Obanliku Local Government Area and Ajassor community, and beneficiaries included those who have already been registered.

The official pointed out that as the number of those registered continues to increase, it calls for additional resources to reinforce UNHCR’s capacity.

He said that was in order to adequately respond to the critical needs of those affected by the crisis.

Tamfu said that asylum seekers have expressed concerns about the activities of some Cameroonian security personnel crossing the border into Nigeria in search of people accused of supporting Cameroon’s pro-independence group.

He said that in January, it was reported that some Cameroonian security personnel entered into the border town of Danare in Boki Local Government Area in Cross River state.

He said that the Cameroonian security personnel were said to have allegedly arrested some individuals believed to be members of the Anglophone secessionist group.

Tamfu said that as part of measures to address these concerns and prevent future incidents, the Government of Nigeria and UNHCR have agreed to construct more secured temporary camps.

He said that the camps would be least 50 kilometres away from the Cameroonian borders in Cross River and Benue states.


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