The United Nations has said the population of Nigerian refugees in a Cameroonian camp tripled in two months. The Nigerians have been displaced by the terrorist activities of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
In a statement issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN Refugee Agency, the organisation cited Cameroonian authorities’ claims that about 13,000 Nigerian refugees had now crossed over from the Nigerian border state of Adamawa after Boko Haram insurgents attacked and captured the town of Mubi in late October.
UNHCR warned that “thousands of Nigerians are escaping the deadly threat posed by the terrorist group Boko Haram and fleeing into neighbouring Cameroon.”
The organisation said the refugees fled to the Guider and Gashiga towns, northern region of Cameroon, and to Bourha, Mogode and Boukoula in the Far North.
The statement said, “Insecurity has been mounting in the border regions between the two countries amid repeated cross-border attacks into northern Cameroon by Boko Haram. As a result, many Nigerians fleeing the violence have sought refuge in Cameroon.
“The Minawao refugee camp, for instance, is hosting 16,282 refugees, with the population having nearly tripled in size in the past two months, according to UN estimates.
“The current camp capacity is estimated at 35,000 people and further expansions are underway to accommodate the refugees already registered for transfer from the border, as well as possible additional new arrivals.”
UNHCR, however, noted that despite the continued attacks, most of the recent 13,000 refugees in Cameroon had already returned to Nigeria, with Yola, Adamawa State capital, as their destination.
“The vast majority of them are women and children. They told our teams that many families were forced to flee on foot, taking few belongings with them and walking tens of kilometres before finding safety in Cameroon,” the organisation added.
UNHCR said it examined claims by the refugees that they had been forced to return to their country of origin as they re-entered Nigeria, adding that it was seeking “assurances” from both countries that “the return of these people was done on a voluntary basis.”
The UN organisation also said recent violence on the Niger-Nigeria border had prompted at least 1,000 Nigerians to escape into Niger’s Bosso area, particularly when the insurgents captured Malam Fatori last week.
“The ongoing refugee crisis has seen more than 100,000 people spill over into Niger’s Diffa region since the beginning of 2014, while Cameroon is currently hosting some 44,000 Nigerian refugees. According to authorities, another 2,700 have fled to Chad.
“Meanwhile, an estimated 650,000 people remain internally displaced in north-eastern Nigeria due to the insurgency,” UNHCR added. Agency report