Over 17, 000 Nigerians seek asylum in neighbouring countries- UNHCR

By The Citizen
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The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday said Nigeria had more than 17,000 asylum seekers in Chad, Cameroun and Niger due to the North-Eastern region crisis.

Ms Angele Dikongue-Atangana, the UNHCR Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS said this while briefing newsmen in Abuja.

She said that 36,000 persons fled the North-east region of Nigeria in search of refuge in the neighbouring countries.

Dikongue-Atangana quoting a research carried out by UNCHR and the Niger Authority, out of the 36,000 that fled the region, 19,000 persons were from Chad and Niger who returned home.

She added that 17,000 were Nigerians.
She said that the UNHCR was working in collaboration with those countries to ensure that the refugees' situation of the asylum seekers was determined so as to guarantee their safety.

Dikongue-Atangana added that insecurity continued to top the list of the challenges facing the UNHCR as thousands of people were continuously rendered homeless.

“The world is facing its most serious refugee crisis for almost 20 years, as conflicts continue to force tens and hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

“War remains the dominant cause for displacement as over half the world's refugees come from war affected countries.

“The humanitarian situation in West-Africa has worsened notably due to insecurity, high unemployment rate as well as draught. ''

Dikongue-Atangana said that at the end of October 2013, Nigeria was host to 1,865 refugees with 1,465 pending asylum request.

She said that the largest refugee populations residing in the country were from Cameroun, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d'Ivore .

“Among the 1865 refugees in Nigeria, Cameroun has 865 persons, Congo, 558 persons; Cote d'Ivore 92; Chad 66; Sudan 45 while others are 239 persons.

She added that 244 Malians had sought refuge in Nigeria since the beginning of the Malian crisis making it the third largest asylum seeking group in Nigeria.

Dikongue-Atangana explained that refugee population declined to less than half last year with the invocation of the ceased circumstances cessation clause for the Liberian refugees as at 30th June 2012.

She said that UNHCR had completed the durable solutions strategy for Liberians adding that 1284 had been locally integrated in Nigeria and 1719 had returned to Liberia.

The Commissioner called for improve collaboration with the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Others are the National Emergency Management Agency and Human Rights Commission for continued upgrade of the well being of refugees.