– The UNHCR says Cameroon has forcefully returned over 2,600 refugees to Nigerian border villages against their will
– The UNHCR spokesman, Babar Baloch, notes that in one of such cases of forced deportation, refugees were rounded up by the military and taken in trucks to a camp for displaced people in Banki, in Nigeria’s Borno state.
– Baloch says the UN is alarmed to see that the forced returns were continuing unabated after its previous protests
Cameroon has deported more than 2,600 Nigerians who fled into northern part of the country to escape Boko Haram jihadists since the start of the year, according to the UN.
According to the Daily Mail, the spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Babar Baloch, told reporters in Geneva that some 85,000 Nigerians have sought refuge in Cameroon but authorities in the country sent many back, citing security reasons.
“So far this year, Cameroon has forcefully returned over 2,600 refugees to Nigerian border villages against their will,” the UNHCR spokesperson said.
He said UNHCR staff in Nigeria had heard and documented accounts about Cameroon troops forcing refugees to return to Nigeria, “without allowing them time to collect their belongings.”
Citing one of such cases of forced deportation, Baloch narrated how refugees were rounded up during a military offensive against Boko Haram insurgents in the Mandara Mountains on the Cameroonian side of the border.
He said they were then taken in trucks to a camp for displaced people in Banki, in Nigeria’s Borno state.
“Those returned included a one-year-old child and a nine-month pregnant woman, who gave birth the day after her arrival in Banki,” he said.
“During the chaos families were separated and some women were forced to leave their young children behind in Cameroon, including a child less than three years old,” he added.
The UNHCR, according to the Punch said it was alarmed to see that the forced returns were continuing unabated after its previous protests and even after the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon signed an agreement with the UN on March 2 to ensure voluntary returns when possible.
“While recognising the legitimate national security concerns of the Cameroon government, UNHCR reminds authorities that refugees are themselves fleeing violence and attacks from Boko Haram and that their access to asylum and protection must be ensured,” the agency said.
Meanwhile, Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state witnessed an early morning multiple bombing on Wednesday, March 22.
The multiple blasts resulted in the death of eight people, according to Premium Times. Eighteen others sustained injury
Reuters report quoted the police as confirming the incident adding that the Borno police commissioner, Damian Chukwu, said it happened at around 4.30 am.
“Three bomb explosions occurred this morning at three different locations near Muna Garage, Maiduguri. Four people were killed and 18 people injured,” he was quoted as saying.
According to Chukwu, two of the blasts happened at camps for people displaced by Boko Haram.
Sahara Reporters also broke the news saying the multiple bombing was reported around the Muna garage in Maiduguri.