20,000 Nigerian refugees were ordered to leave Cameroon. Humanitarian agencies are alarmed by Cameroon’s “forced return” of thousands of Nigerian refugees fleeing fighting between the army and Boko Haram in Cameroon.
“The Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities told them to leave,” said Stephanie Remion, emergency coordinator for MSF. This forced return is against international refugee law, says Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). (Médecins Sans Frontières, also known in English as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.)
Cameroonian authorities have ordered the return of some 20,000 Nigerian refugees to Rann, in the extreme northeastern Nigeria, a repeated target of Boko Haram insurgents.
This is an area to which humanitarian staff have no access since December. In a UN report, have read little that “these people have a cruel need for humanitarian assistance, including shelter, food or drinking water.”
The NGO Action Against Hunger (ACF) estimates that “at least 10,000 people have returned to the state of Borno” state at the heart of the insurgency, “among the 40,000 Nigerian women, children and men who fled the city of Rann following the deadly attacks of December 2018 and January 2019.”
ACF stresses that “the conditions are not currently met to allow the safe return of refugees to the city of Rann.” Amnesty International says at least 60 civilians, who returned to Rann after the January attacks, were killed by the jihadists.
“We are extremely worried about what will happen to them in Rann, where the security situation is very dangerous,” says MSF, who also points to a case of measles, which could prove a “disaster” if it is transformed.
The city, where tens of thousands of villagers fleeing the fighting against terrorists, was attacked by Boko Haram between late December and mid-January. Panicked, Cameroonian and Nigerian soldiers stationed around the city fled.