Hello and welcome to the Kuri Bari regional programme. Our topic today is Tackling the Thorny Issue of Returning Refugees.
Eleven years of armed conflict in the Lake Chad region has displaced more than 2.7-million people, including 2.1 million Nigerians largely from the northeast into neighbouring countries.
A declaration read out in Moura, Cameroon, on the 10th of February confirmed that Nigeria and Cameroon had promised to convene a committee to ensure that those who returned would be safe from violent attacks and COVID-19.
However, the United Nations refugee agency announced that it was concerned about the forced return of hundreds of refugees from Cameroon’s far north region to northerneastern Nigeria, despite having signed a tripartite agreement − between the two countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees − aimed at, among other things, ensuring the voluntary nature of returns.
Last year, Cameroon forcibly returned more than 2,600 refugees, including women and children, against their will. They were not even allowed to collect their belongings.
Recently, the federal and Borno State governments had repatriated 9,800 refugees from Minawao displaced persons’ camp in Cameroon to Banki town in the Bama Local Government Area in Borno State.
The state government has insisted that the repatriation has been and is voluntary and in accordance with the Kampala Convention, which agreed that internally displaced persons would be protected and assisted.
But it is still unclear whether the return of refugees is voluntary and if they will be protected against violent attacks and COVID-19.
Our guests are:
- Kachalla Grema, head of the network of civil society organisation that counterviolent extremist groups;
- Haruna Ayuba, the programme coordinator at the Centre for Peace, Diplomatic and Development Studies.