The Federal Government has welcomed back 133 Nigerian refugees that voluntarily returned home after staying in minawao refugee camp in Cameroon.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq received the returnees on behalf of the federal government.
Mr Bina Emanvel,Senior External Relations Officer, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), disclosed this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
According to him, the voluntary repatriation comprising 133 Nigerian refugees was coordinated by the federal government, the Government of Cameroon and UNHCR.
“Pursuant to the Tripartite Agreement, Nigeria as a responsible member of the international community and in compliance with the Action Plan, is welcoming 23 families who have decided to voluntarily come back home to join in the effort to develop the nation.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the Government of Adamawa State for all the support extended for the success of this first voluntary repatriation operation,” Emanvel quoted Farouq as saying.
He added:“Mr Roger Hollo, Deputy Representative, UNHCR Nigeria called on the government and the entire humanitarian community to continue working hand in hand to ensure the provision of protection, services and livelihood opportunities to both the returnees and the host communities.
“UNHCR joins the government of Nigeria, to welcome these 23 families from Adamawa and Bauchi States as they fulfil their dream to return home.
“We are committed to supporting these families for sustainable integration back into their communities.”
Emanvel said the governor of Cameroon’s far North Region, Mijiyawa Bakari, led the Cameroonian delegation to see off the first group which flew from Maroua to Yola, where transit centres had been set up.
“The Nigerian government sent a mission here; we discussed how to assist these refugees in their return. All measures have been taken to ensure a smooth operation.
“This is the first departure and we want to see that the refugees are able to go back with all their possessions,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the federal government, the Republic of Cameroon and UNHCR in 2017 signed a Tripartite Agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees living in Cameroon.
The agreement provide that a legal framework be set up to provide modalities for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees, in safety and dignity.
It also established a Tripartite Commission (TC) and a subsidiary Technical Working Group (TWG) with representatives of both governments and UNHCR, to oversee the implementation of the said agreement.
The federal government had in March allocated resources for the repatriation of 4,000 refugees, adding that these resources are to cover costs for renovation and management of transit and reception centre in Yola.
It also allocated resources for returnees to receive food and essential items for onward journey to final destinations, where they would be provided with shelter kits and reintegration packages.(NAN)