Posted by Rafiu Ajakaye, Lagos | 30 September 2017 | 1,556 times
Nigeria on Friday decried as “worrisome and disturbing” the alleged forced return of over 100,000 asylum-seekers by Cameroonian soldiers, saying such actions violate global rules governing the treatment of refugees.
“This unfriendly attitude of the Cameroonian soldiers to Nigerian asylum-seekers is really worrisome,” Abike Dabiri-Erewa, presidential aide on Diaspora matters, said in a statement reacting to a report detailing alleged violations against Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram violence in the country’s northeast.
“These deportations, according to Human Rights Watch, defy the UN refugee agency’s plea not to return anyone to northeast Nigeria until the security and human rights situation has improved considerably,” she added.
The 55-page Human Rights Watch report, “They Forced Us Onto Trucks Like Animals”: Cameroon’s Mass Forced Return and Abuse of Nigerian Refugees, condemns purported rights abuses against the Nigerians.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, “Since early 2015, Cameroonian soldiers have tortured, assaulted, and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum-seekers in remote border areas, denied them access to the UN refugee agency, and summarily deported, often violently, tens of thousands to Nigeria.
“It also documents violence, poor conditions, and unlawful movement restrictions in Cameroon’s only official camp for Nigerian refugees, as well as conditions recent returnees face in Nigeria.”
Cameroon’s forced returns are a breach of the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the forcible return of refugees and asylum-seekers to persecution and, under regional standards in Africa, to situations of generalised violence, such as in northeast Nigeria, according to the official.
She urged the regional bloc Economic Community of West Africa to compel Cameroon to be their brothers’ keeper.
Nigeria and its Lake Chad region neighbours are battling to end years of violent insurgency waged by Boko Haram in which nearly 20,000 have died, and over 2 million displaced, while the entire region has been plunged into a humanitarian emergency, according to various relief agencies. (Anadolu Agency)
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