Statement by H.E. Paul Biya at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees held on September 20, 2016 under the initiative of President Barack Obama on the side-lines of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly.
The President of the United States of America,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
The Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Permit me, first and foremost, to add my voice to those of previous speakers to thank President Barack Obama and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for their welcome initiative to convene this summit. The refugee issue, as we all know, is one of the major challenges of our century. I will spare you the statistics which have already been mentioned here, and which show that the problem is serious. Given the magnitude of this human tragedy which pricks our collective conscience, we have a historic responsibility, namely to take action. My country will not shirk that responsibility.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
True to its tradition of hospitality and solidarity, and by virtue of its stability, Cameroon is a haven for people seeking peace and safe refuge.
To date, my country hosts more than 350 000 refugees of different nationalities. To cope with this influx, my Government has taken measures to provide decent living conditions for them. In recent years, refugee camps have been set up in collaboration with the UNHCR to settle Nigerian refugees fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram sect, and those from the Central African Republic faced with political instability. Minawao Camp alone, for instance, hosts over 80 000 Nigerian refugees.
At these reception sites, the refugees enjoy basic social services provided by the Cameroon Government, friendly countries, the UNHCR and humanitarian organizations. Facilities are offered, particularly in education, at all levels.
Healthwise, the Cameroon Government recently signed a framework agreement with the UNHCR to jointly provide care to refugees in our local hospitals.
Regarding protection, measures have been taken to issue secured identity cards to persons eligible for refugee status.
Despite the huge financial impact of implementing these measures, we will continue with and increase our assistance to refugees and hundreds of thousands of displaced persons in Cameroon’s Far-North Region, who are also fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram terrorist organization.
At this juncture, I would like to appeal for increased international community support to countries, which like Cameroon, are hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees on their territories.
Also, let me draw the attention of the distinguished personalities here present to the situation of some areas of my country which are ravaged by terrorism, and where reconstruction will require substantial resources. Such is the price to pay for the resettlement of the affected people.
I would like to conclude with acknowledgements. My very sincere thanks go to all friendly countries for their constant support to our fight against terrorism.
We thank them as well as International organizations and civil society. We particularly appreciate their support for our determination to provide to persons in distress, dignified reception and living conditions, and to their children, access to education.