Nigerian refugees are being compelled to return by Cameroon authorities to their cataclysmic north-eastern Nigerian regions and this concerns the United Nations. In spite of the newly signed tripartite agreement with the intention of ensuring that the returns are deliberate.
This year, about 1,600 refugees are forced to return back to Nigerian villages near the border against their will declared by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR.
The UNHCR is specifically concerned because the forced returns are a violation of the tripartite agreement signed by the governments of Cameron and Nigeria with UNHCR on March 2 this year at Yaoundé.
Refoulement or forced return of refugees and asylum-seekers is a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1969 OAU Convention, which both were ratified by Cameroon.
UNHCR acknowledges the generosity of Cameroon government and local neighborhoods that host more than 85,000 Nigerian refugees, but urges the government to honor the country’s obligations under the regional and international refugee protection agreements and Cameroonian law.
At the north-eastern parts of Nigeria, insecurity still persists and the availability of basic services continues to be limited. Majority of the Nigerian refugees returning to their homes are experiencing internal displacement and are unable to come back to their places of origin.
UNHCR teams inside Nigeria have received and documented incidents about Cameroonian troops are returning Nigerian refugees against their will and are not allowed to have time to collect their belongings.
In the midst of the commotion, several families were separated and a number of women were forced to leave behind their young children in Cameroon, including a kid less than three years old.
Taking into consideration the justifiable national security concerns of the government of Cameroon, UNHCR reiterates Cameroon authorities that the Nigerian refugees are themselves escaping attacks and violence from Boko Haram and that the availability of protection and asylum should be ensured.