Nigeria, Niger Republic to Finalise Strategies for Return of Refugees

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Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

Nigerian team has visited Diffa in Niger Republic to finalise strategies for the return of refugees to the country.

Thousands of refugees on the wake of the Boko Haram crisis fled Borno State to Diffa in Niger Republic.

A team from Nigeria led by the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, was in Diffa to engage the Nigerien Government on quick and dignified return of the refugees to their homeland (Nigeria).

Some of the team members were the federal commissioner in charge of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), Senator Basheer Mohammed, and the acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Alhaji Ali Grema.

A statement issued by the Borno State Governor’s spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, said the governor, who was in Abuja for series of developmental activities, flew to Diffa last Friday in company of the federal government officials.

The statement said in Diffa, the governor and the federal team visited Nigerians taking refuge in Niger Republic to know their welfare and to follow up discussions with stakeholders on how to fast-track the safe and dignified return of the refugees in Diffa for resettlement in Borno State.

Zulum, Mohammed and Grema were said to have held meeting with the Governor of Diffa Province, Isa Lameen, where they expressed gratitude to the Nigerien Government and host community members for their empathy and support for the Nigerian refugees in camps in the province.

The statement said from Diffa province, last Friday, Zulum and the federal team flew by chopper to Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State where they interacted with batches of former refugees who returned from Niger Republic.

They also inspected temporary shelters newly built to accommodate over 1,000 households.

The statement further said while in Damasak, Zulum was at the 29 Task Force Brigade of the Nigerian Army, where he assured the military of his government’s support for soldiers, and pledged his commitment to peace building efforts.

The governor, last Sunday in Banki, a commercial border town in Bama LGA with Cameroon, distributed N80 million cash to displaced families as livelihood support.

The households had faced challenges of not having enough money to buy food from vendors.

The Banki camp hosts about 42,000 IDPs mainly from Banki, Kumshe and other surrounding communities.

The statement said the governor gave each beneficiary N5, 000 to procure food items.

The governor also sympathised with the displaced families over their plight, assuring them that government will devise means of ensuring food sufficiency as well as making Banki -Bama road motorable.