Hundreds of Nigerian refugees residing in the town of Kerawa, in the far north of Cameroon, have been repatriated to their country, according to sources.
The operation which took place during the last 48 hours was coordinated by the High Commission for Refugees (HCR) after agreement of the Cameroonian and Nigerian governments.
According to Biou Lawam, chairman of the Kerawa vigilance committee, who spoke with Cameroun newspaper said that those who were housed in the Franco-Arab school were the first to be repatriated.
“The objective was clear: to identify and arrest Nigerian refugees, and sent back home. They knew that many have been staying in Kerawa for several years and have even reunited with their families. We formed several groups and searched house after house and the occupants were asked to declare their identity by presenting their National Identity Card (CNI), “he said.
All those found were escorted and boarded on trucks prepared to return. They were transported to the border on the Banki side, “in Nigeria by elements of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR)
Because of the activities of the terrorist sect Boko Haram, more than 60,000 Nigerians have taken refuge in Cameroon, where they have returned to the camps mainly in the Far-North region.
Ongoing operations are the translation of the defeat and disintegration of Boko Haram, the coalition of the Mixed Multinational Force (FMM) made up of the armies of Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, which enabled several Nigerian territories Then occupied by this terrorist group
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) a total of 517 Nigerians were sent back to their home country, including 313 who had applied for asylum, according to a UNHCR statement reported by AFP.
NHCR Cameroon tweeted that it was “very concerned by these repatriations and continues to advocate for access to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement.” Non-refoulement refers to the practice of not returning refugees to a country where they could face persecution.
UNHCR told AFP that it planned to sign an agreement with Nigeria and Cameroon on March 2 that would see 85,000 Nigerian refugees voluntarily resettled in their home country. More than 61,000 refugees are currently living at the Minawao camp and a further 20,000 at the Logone-et-Chari camp in Cameroon’s Far North region.