UMHCR Registers 20, 485 Cameroonian Refugees In Cross River and Benue States

By Ahmed Abu, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri

UNHCR Regional Representative for West Africa, Liz Ahua, and UNHCR Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Antonio Canhandula, undertook a mission to Benue and Cross River states to meet with local authorities and partners to assess the influx of Cameroonian refugees from 25 to 29 March, 2018.

A statement issued by Hansin Grandi Tamfu, the External Relations/PI Officer, UNHCR Wednesday said in Calabar, Cross River state, Mr. Josiah Flomo, in company of Ms. Ahua, Mr. Canhandula and UNHCR Head of Sub-Office Calabar, other state officials met with Professor Ivara Esu, the Deputy Governor of Cross River state.

At the meeting Ms. Ahua appreciated the support of the Nigerian government to the Cameroonian refugees and encouraged the authorities to ensure that refugee registration figures are factual, as this is important for credibility with donors.

The statement added that the Deputy Governor indicated that there are more refugees than have been registered so far (20,485) and local resources have been stretched since the beginning of the influx.

Equally, a protection team led by UNHCR Nigeria Deputy Representative, Brigitte Eno, with Lucie Gagne and Samuel Le Billan, Assistant Regional Representative and Regional Registration Officer respectively, undertook a mission to Tanare I and II, Ajassor (in Ikom), Agbokim and Obanliku LGAs in Cross River.

According to the statement, the mission aimed to assess the needs of refugees and draft a protection strategy for the Cameroonian refugee situation.

The team informed the Cameroonian refugees about the decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to recognize them as refugees on a temporary protection basis, and the need to relocate them away from the border. Individual documentation will be issued to those registered and recognized thus far.

On Population Movements, the statement said there are continuing reports of new arrivals of Cameroonian refugees in the southeastern states of Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River and Taraba in Nigeria. UNHCR and national authorities will continue with registration to keep track of the influx.

UNHCR Response on 29 March, 2018 was the handing over of two 4x4 vehicles to partners Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and the Confederation of Catholic Relief (CARITAS). HIFASS provides health, water sanitation and hygiene services. Meanwhile, CARITAS provides protection assistance.

The vehicles will improve the movement of partners in their duties to reach Cameroonian refugees with assistance in Cross River state where 16,790 refugees have been registered and are located in more than 20 villages.

In Cross River state, UNHCR continues protection monitoring. The office has indicated to national agencies, NCFRMI and SEMA, the need for registration officers to be dispatched to Ikom and Adikpo LGAs in Cross River and Benue states respectively.

The presence of these registration officers will permit improved tracking and registration of new arrivals. Furthermore, these registration officers will be able to cover Akwa Ibom and Taraba states from their bases in Cross River and Benue at the same time.

In Benue, UNHCR has cleared an access road to the Anyake site, Kwande LGA, where 5,000 refugees will be relocated. The access road is 6km from the main road.

Also, the site has been cleared and prepared for the new settlement. Further work on the site includes completion of a one-stop shop building where refugees will receive assistance. The relocation process is scheduled to begin by end of April.

UNHCR organized a training on procurement, warehousing and inventory management on 3 April. Twenty partner staff members in Cross River and Benue states are attending the training which began on 3 April. UNHCR is working to assist refugees in collaboration with seven partners including, four in Cross River and three in Benue.