Nigeria has 218,000 Refugees in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Says UN

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*Urges Nigeria to create conditions for return

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

About 218,000 Nigerians are said to be refugees in three neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has revealed.

According to the UNHCR Country Representative, Anthonio Canhandula, Nigeria has 94,000 refugees in Cameroon, 12,000 in Chad and 112,000 in Niger Republic.

Canhandula, who made the disclosure Wednesday at a consultative meeting on the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) in Abuja, urged Nigeria to create conditions that would facilitate the return of the refugees to the country.

“Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, 94,000, Nigerian refugees in Chad, 12,000, Nigeria refugees in Niger, 112,000 and I am talking of the North-east crisis, because there is another crisis in the North-west in Sokoto and Zamfara which has created another crisis of internally displaced population of a figure we don’t have,” the country representative said.

Canhandula also disclosed that on the home front, Nigeria is currently housing 46,000 refugees from Anglophone Cameroon, which is spread across Benue, Cross River and Taraba States.

While commending Nigeria’s efforts at implementing the global compact, which is aimed at uplifting refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), he said the shift now is to reduce dependence of refugees on aid by promoting early self reliance.

“We are working hand in glove with the local authorities to ensure that refugees are positively occupied in seeking self reliance, be it in farming or other income generating occupations,” Canhandula said.

He lamented that a lot of refugees have become accustomed to aid that “they would refuse and prefer to stay in the camp, waiting for the monthly assistance”.

He said the objectives of the global compact amongst others is to ease the pressure of refugees on host countries, enhance refugee self reliance, expand access to third countries as a solution and create in countries of origin the conditions for return in safety and dignity.

While noting that there is a reduction in the figure of Adamawa State IDPs as a result of reasonable peace and security, he said infrastructure and other basic amenities as well as means of livelihood remain a major challenge to those who have returned to their communities.