By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—THE United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNHCR has lamented the upsurge in the number of displaced persons in Borno State as well as the flight of thousands of refugees into Cameroon and Chad.
UNHCR Regional Representative for West Africa, Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Nigeria Situation, Liz Kpam Ahua, who made the disclosure yesterday at the opening of the ongoing 2nd Regional Protection Dialogue on the Lake Chad Basin in Abuja, said those currently displaced were about 320, 000.
According to UNHCR, the humanitarian crisis that rocked Cameroon resulted in over 35,000 refugees that flooded into three states of Benue, Taraba and Cross River.
“Two-and-half years after the 1st Regional Protection Dialogue, a significant amount of work has been done to advance the commitments that we took here with delegations from Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. Despite this progress, however, we are equally going to learn that the Lake Chad Basin continues to face a protection crisis across the four countries.
“While we acknowledge the deliberate and concerted efforts of the four countries of the LCB to bring the BH crisis to an end and while recognizing the successes achieved by military operations that have led to the recovery of local government areas in north-eastern Nigeria that had been hitherto occupied by Boko Haram, we are dismayed to witness new displacement of people in Borno State and the flight of thousands more into Cameroon and Chad. All together, close to 320,000 persons have been displaced anew in the last three months of 2018 and this very month of January.
Today, two-and-half years, after the first RPD, we, all of us gathered here in this meeting must stand together, as a community, to share the pains inflicted on over 7.5 million women, girls, boys, men, young and old, in he LCB.
“Whether internally displaced, of which there are over 2.5 million, or in exile, of which there are close to 230,000 now or those indirectly impacted, we feel their pain, their deprivation and the violence arising from the Boko Haram crisis,” she said.
“As if the conflict in the north-east Nigeria was not enough, other conflicts emerged or escalated to the limelight. In Nigeria, the herder-farmer conflict in the Middle Belt of Nigeria led to many deaths and displacement, while in Cameroon, the South West crisis caused an equally dramatic impact with the displacement of thousands of refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs and host communities into Benue, Cross Rivers and Taraba states. Nigeria is now host to over 35,000 Cameroonians in these four states,” she noted.
Earlier in his keynote address, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, charged the participants to work out measures to tackle the old and new challenges in Lake Chad Basin.