The people of the Southern Cameroons are thankful to Cross River State, Taraba State, The Federal Government of Nigeria and UNHCR for their goodwill and hospitality towards our refugees. Our people have been provided shelter, food and humanitarian assistance in Agbokim Waterfalls, Abia, Ekukghatai, Bijah and other areas in the Federal Republic of Nigeria since fleeing from a war declared by President Paul Biya of French Cameroun.
So far, 421 Southern Cameroons villages have been torched by French Cameroun military and more than ten thousand people have been massacred. There are more than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and more than 100,000 people are refugees in neighboring countries.
The Interim Government of Ambazonia was alarmed when it was briefed that French Cameroon governor, OkalaBilia, is planning to meet with the authorities in Cross River State to send our people back to a war zone in the Southern Cameroons. It is a genuine worry to us that an Ikom radio station announced that all refugees in Cross River State should go back to their places of origin.
Refugees are regulated by the Convention relating to the status of refugee of July 1951. According to article 1 of this convention as amended by the 1967 protocol, a refugee can be defined or considered as;
“A person who owing to a well- founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection that country; or who , not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or , owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”
Going by the above definition, it will be illegal for a governor of a country that is at warto visit refugees to persuade them to return home.With the intensity of slayings in the last few days by the military and French Cameroun backed militias, an act of this nature will be considered a violation of the above convention and an abuse to the rights and civil liberties of the refugees.
I want to put on record that should any refugees be sent back to the Southern Cameroons, their lives will be in danger.
We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the UNHDR in Nigeria to continue to protect the rights of refugees in accordance with international conventions and treaties.
Our policy for finding a lasting solution to the crisis remains the application of the following key confidence-building measures
- A UN Humanitarian Intervention in the Southern Cameroons. This necessary action will secure the safety of the people of the Southern Cameroons and humanitarian workers.
- The release of all Southern Cameroon’s political prisoners being held by La Republique du Cameroun in various prisons and torture facilities.
- An International Fact-finding Mission to investigate the crimes perpetrated in the Southern Cameroons by the regime in Yaoundé.
The Interim Government of Ambazonia considers the adoption of these measures as imperative to a discontinuation of crimes against humanity. Only such a cessation of human rights abuses will pave way for a safe return to refugees.
Federal Republic of Ambazonia