Abuja, December 7, 2021 (TMP) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is worried over the influx of Cameroon refugees into Nigeria which has surpassed the benchmark of 70,000 with nearly 80 percent women and children.
The refugee situation is exacerbated by the continuing intense arms conflict between secessionist group and government’s troops.
Raising the alarm on Monday in Abuja, the spokesperson of UNHCR, Mr Gabriel Adeyemo, said in statement the refugees settled in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Cross River and Taraba states are now more than 78,000 who needed for urgent international additional support.
Adeyemo said that $97.7 million is needed to respond to the needs of the 78,000 refugees and asylum-seekers of different nationalities and Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs) from Cameroon.
The refugees, he said, need protection, camps and shelter and non-food items such as blankets and jerry cans.
“This is not just a number, these are people behind these numbers, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, people just like you and I that have been forced to flee their homes to seek safety and save their lives,’’ Adeyemo quoted UNHCR Country Representative in Nigeria, Chansa Kapaya, as saying.
UNHCR commended Nigeria because the West African nation was on its way to becoming a champion in implementing the Global Compact on Refugees.
“But Nigeria needs support,” he said.
UNHCR had earlier reported that many of those who have fled so far, had to rely on trails and informal paths to make the crossing.
The spokesperson of UNHCR, Babar Baloch, said: “People are telling us they were ordered to leave their houses due to increasing violence in their home areas.”
Violence in Cameroon’s – primarily English-speaking – north-west and south-west areas has worsened over the past years, following clashes between armed groups and security forces.
The English speaking area had been up in arms to defend its declaration of secession of Ambazonia Republic from the Cameroon.
Reports indicate that scores of people have been killed and thousands forced from their homes, including many who have sought refuge in Nigeria.
The situation is particularly worrying for women and children – accounting for close to 80 percent of arrivals – and most refugees are sheltering in Nigeria’s south eastern areas.
In some instances, cash assistance is provided to enable refugees buy food directly from the markets in host communities, helping facilitate the integration of those forced to flee and those welcoming them, he stated.
The needs of the refugees, UNHCR said, ‘is far from being met’ but the work of UNHCR and other aid organizations are struggling to assist.