The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has raised concern over influx of Cameroonian refugees into Nigeria which has surpassed the benchmark of 70,000 people.
The refugee situation is exacerbated by continuing conflict between secessionist groups and Cameroonian government troops.
Raising the alarm on Monday in Abuja, UNHCR spokesperson Gabriel Adeyemo said the refugees have settled in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Cross River and Taraba states are now more than 78,000 and they need urgent international additional support.
Mr Adeyemo said that $97.7 million is needed to respond to the needs of the 78,000 refugees and asylum-seekers of different nationalities and Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs) from Cameroon.
According to UNHCR, the refugees need protection, camps and shelter, and non-food items such as blankets and jerry cans.
“This is not just a number, these are people, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, people just like you and I that have been forced to flee their homes to seek safety and save their lives,” Adeyemo quoted UNHCR Country Representative in Nigeria, Chansa Kapaya.
UNHCR commended Nigeria on its way to becoming a champion in implementing the Global Compact on Refugees.
Violence in Cameroon’s – primarily English-speaking – north-west and south-west areas has worsened over the past years, following clashes between armed groups and security forces.
The English speaking area had been up in arms to defend its declaration of secession of Ambazonia Republic from the Cameroon.
Reports indicate that scores of people have been killed and thousands forced from their homes, including many who have sought refuge in Nigeria.
The situation is particularly worrying for women and children – accounting for close to 80 percent of arrivals – and most refugees are sheltering in Nigeria’s south eastern areas.
In some instances, cash assistance is provided to enable the refugees buy food directly from the markets in host communities, helping facilitate the integration of those forced to flee and those welcoming them, Mr Adeyemo stated.