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Why Nigerian Refugees In Cameroon Lack Recognition 

By Lindi Bi Nabain
 

CameroonPostline.com — The Governor of the Far North Region, Augustine Awa Fonka, has disclosed that about 20,000 fleeing Nigerians have taken refuge in Cameroon. He said that the fleeing Nigerians who have not identified themselves as refugees are on their own and should face the consequences when time comes.

Governor Awa Fonka was speaking to Nigerian refugees residing in Garwar, while on a visit to the camp to see how they are faring. He said there are about 20,000 Nigerians who have fled their country and are residing at the border villages. “If you are a refugee, you have to go where you can be taken care of by your host country. We will not be responsible for whatever happens to them wherever they are.

This is the official camp provided for the refugees and anybody who is not here, is considered as someone who does not want to respect the law and we are going to see how to handle them. Notwithstanding, there is still time and we are calling on all those who are hanging around to identify themselves in order to be relocated here or should leave immediately,” he stated.
 

Fonka also advised that those who do not want to identify themselves as refugees can as well regularise their stay in the country with the immigration office. “In the days ahead, officials of the immigration office and law enforcement will be on the field and all those who have not been identified as refugees would have themselves to blame,” he stated.
 

Out of the over 3,000 Nigerians that were discovered at Zelevet Village last month, who fled their country due to conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian army, only 780 have been accepted as refugees. According to the Governor, it is the responsibility of the Cameroon Government to receive them, not only because they are our African brothers in a desperate situation but also because Cameroon is a signatory to UN conventions.
 

“And we are ensuring that they are given some basic facilities to permit them live. They now have shelter, food, water, health facilities and electricity. If the situation in their country persists till September, we will create some schools to handle their educational needs,” the Governor said.
 

He also announced that a mosque and a church will be erected for their spiritual growth, while smaller tents will be provided so that they can be grouped as per families. At the camp, some UNHCR officials disclosed that much has been done to ensure that the refugees have an agreeable stay in Cameroon; tents have been provided for their shelter, they have two meals a day, they have electricity, potable water is being provided everyday by the fire brigade, while a water point is under construction and a standby health personnel.
 

We Are In Paradise

It was an enchanted group of persons that welcomed the Governor and his entourage to the refugee camp, with songs and dances thanking the Government of Cameroon for coming to their rescue. The representative of the refugees, Ali Shonek, said they are living in “paradise”.
He said when they were running away, they never thought they could ever live in peace and happily but they have received this comfort from Cameroon.
 

Shonek, who hails from Goza in Borno State, is in the camp with his wife and five children.
While thanking the Governor, the Lamido, the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO for Mayo Tsanaga, Maurice Tchoffou Sa, the Government of Cameroon and the UNHCR, Shonek promised they will observe order and report any suspicious movement to authorities, adding that they are law abiding citizens and are not in Cameroon to create problems.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01447

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