The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that over 10,000 refugees from Cameroon have been registered in various communities in Cross River State in South-south Nigeria.
The Assistant Representative in charge of Operations for UNHCR in Abuja, Mr. Bamba Boubacar, made the announcement in Calabar, the state capital, at the weekend while donating a field Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) to the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) in Calabar to facilitate the registration of refugees seeking asylum in Nigeria.
“We have registered, so far, 10,400 Cameroonian refugees in Cross River and the registration is continuing. We have been informed that there are people not registered in various areas. But, until we complete the registration, we would not be able to give an accurate figure.
“We have people from other countries, and also Nigerians who were established in Cameroon coming back. They cannot be registered as refugees. So, we need to be cautious and register before providing a figure.
“Today we are providing this additional support to NCFRMI in Calabar because we have an influx of Cameroonian refugees in this area. This entry was not foreseen and the capacity on the ground was not up to provide a better response to this crisis and as partners of NCFRMI in the protection of refugees, we are providing this support because as you know the refugees are scattered across vast areas in Cross River State, and to register them, the team has to move from one place to the other. And so far, there are a limited number of vehicles. So, this additional vehicle will help to speed up the registration process so that the asylum seekers would be registered on time, and having at least a proof of registration as asylums seekers. This would be helpful for their protection when they are moving. They would provide this document to security officials so they will know that they are asylums seekers, and they have been registered. The vehicle is a four by four SUV for rugged terrain, with sitting capacity for seven persons, equipped with communications facilities.
“UNHCR is working closely with government to improve their protection to ensure the people have documentation so they will not be harassed or arrested by authorities for lack of documentation. We would continue to work with the NCFRMI, and the state authorities to improve the security and protection of asylum seekers and refugees.
“Before we provided this vehicle, we have already started to provide assistance to the refugees, and I am happy that you are concerned about food. We have provided water, food, items, mattresses, blankets and also shelter kits and so on. We are providing much broader assistance to the people,” Boubacar said.
Boubacar said the UNHCR was planning to establish as office in Calabar, and additional two field offices in other parts of Cross River State.
Also speaking at the event, Head, Refugee Status Determination Unit, NCFRMI, Mr. Murdakai Titus, said they were grateful to the UNHCR for donating the vehicle.
“On behalf of the Federal Commissioner, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the management and entire staff of NCFRMI, I would like to express our profound appreciation to the office of the UNHCR in Nigeria led by Mr. Antonio Jose Canhandula, for this great gesture. It is indeed an exemplary demonstration of partnership in action, which has long been in existence since the establishment of the commission in 1989.
“The gift of this vehicle is made timely when the South-south zone is witnessing unimaginable influx of persons of concern from our neighbouring country Cameroon and more are still arriving. It will certainly facilitate our collective humanitarian response in the South-south zone. Hence, the need for such gesture cannot be overemphasised. We look forward to a better collaborative relationship in Nigeria,” Titus said.