The Federal Government has condemned the alleged forced repatriation of over 100,000 Nigerian asylum seekers by the Cameroonian military, describing the development as worrisome and disturbing.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, in her reaction to the incident, decried the inhuman treatment meted out to the refugees who were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
The deportations, according to the Human Rights Watch, defied the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ plea not to return anyone to the North-East until the security and human rights situation had improved considerably.
HRW had said that about 100,000 Nigerian refugees displaced by Boko Haram were deported from Cameroon, resulting in several deaths. Read also: Ekiti police nabs rapist of college student
The 55-page HRW report entitled, “They forced us onto trucks like animals: Cameroon’s forced mass return and abuse of Nigerian refugees,” had catalogued the ordeal of the refugees in the hands of Cameroonian soldiers.
The HRW had alleged that since the early 2015, Cameroonian soldiers had tortured, assaulted, and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers in remote border areas, denied them access to the UN refugee agency, and summarily deported, often violently, tens of thousands to Nigeria.
The report also documented violence, poor conditions, and unlawful movement restrictions in Cameroon’s only official camp for Nigerian refugees, as well as conditions recent returnees face in Nigeria.
In the report, the group said some of the refugees “who were weakened after living for months without food and medical care, died during or just after the deportations.” Read also: Mother of 4 leaves kids home alone while she takes 11-day trip to Germany
The organisation, which said it interviewed more than 60 affected refugees, said that Cameroonian soldiers allegedly “frequently used extreme physical violence” on the Nigerian refugees as they tried to curtail the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the country.
However, in a statement on Friday, Dabiri-Erewa noted that despite the friendly disposition between Nigeria and Cameroon, the alleged forced mass return of Nigerian asylum seekers was disturbing and calls for concern.
Dabiri-Erewa said Cameroon should heed the United Nation’s call on all countries to protect refugees fleeing the carnage in the North-East.
She appealed to the Economic Community of West African States and other West African regional groups to prevail on Cameroon “to be its brother’s keeper in a situation like this.”
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