Being the body of a Press Briefing granted by Caritas Nigeria Executive Secretary, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey on Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018
Caritas Nigeria hereby appeals for support for the mitigation of the humanitarian situation that has arisen as a result of influx of Cameroonian Refugees in Nigeria.
Recently there has been increased agitation for self-actualization in Cameroon, which has led to the destruction of life and destabilization of the polity and eventual migration of the people of South-West Cameroun into Nigeria through the borders and has created a refugee situation in some states of Nigeria. While Caritas Nigeria has carried out assessments in Cross River State where the refugees have the largest concentration, it is seeking for guidance on other areas where the refugees are located to make necessary assessments. Ikom, Etung, Obanliku, Boki, Akamkpa and Akpabuyo LGAs of Cross River State.
The group responsible for the rebellion in Cameroon is principally the Ambazonian group whose members are more or less an Advocacy group struggling for total restoration of statehood to the former British colonised part of Cameroun that is often referred to as English speaking. Their objective is the dissolution of the 1961 Union of Southern Cameroun with French Cameroun.
Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (Caritas Nigeria) through its Diocesan Caritas, known as the Justice Development and Peace/Caritas (JDPC) in the affected region, JDPC Calabar and JDPC Ogoja conducted rapid assessments across some of the affected LGAs receiving large influx of refugees from Cameroun between 7th and 20th January 2018.
The assessment revealed that the Cameroonian refugees in Cross Rivers State were mostly based in the communities within Nigeria that are sharing borders with Cameroun. Most refugees’ lived within host communities with relatives or in abandoned government quarters or uncompleted buildings or any available open space. They have been dependent on the generosity of their also impoverished host communities for food and clothing as most of them fled for their lives with only the clothes they had on.
A rapid assessment conducted by JDPC Ogoja in affected communities of Ogoja, Ikom, Boki and Obanliku local government areas (LGAs) in Northern Cross River State, from 17th January 2018 to 20th January 2018, revealed that the refugees though dispersed within the host communities were somewhat organised in that they had leaders who kept records in a register at a central location within each LGA, where the refugees could be mustered for registration, information dissemination or distribution of relief materials. Their leaders keep records of the arrivals and departure of the refugees in the various communities, thus making tracking a lot less cumbersome. From the registration centers in Ikom, Etung, Boki and Obanliku local Government areas, we gathered that a total of 22,215 thousand refugees had been registered, as can be seen in the table below. It should be noted however that there is still influx of at least 20 persons per day at each of the centres as of 20th January, 2018.
There was a heavy influx of refugees in Akamkpa LGA- Southern Senatorial District in the Oban Corridor of the Cross River National Park. Our investigation showed that statistics had not been taken of the asylum seekers in the area and no relief has reached them. An assessment conducted by JDPC Calabar between 7th and 13th January, 2018 in 13 border communities hosting in Akampa LGA along the Oban corridor revealed there were about 3,409 refugees from Cameroun, with Red Cross being the only humanitarian organisation presence witnessed here.
The population of refugees/ asylum seekers from the Cameroun crisis as recorded in host communities during Caritas Nigeria independent assessments was Twenty Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Twenty-Four (25,624) persons comprising children, women and men.
Yala Ikom, Ikom, Agbarabong
- ETUNG LGA
Ajasor, Agbokim Waterside 1&2, Nsofang, Nfonoaman and Asagakang, Asika
- BOKI LGA
Biajua, Abuebam, Okwango; while the boarder villages include Danare 1&2, Wula, Butatong, Okwa-Okwango
- OBANLIKU LGA
Amana 1&2, Ayuga, Belegete, Ogbokuku, Utanga, Bottom Hill, Radiam and Yindeve
- AKAMPA LGA
Oban, Aking, Osomba, New Ndebiji, Akor, Ntebachot, Nyaje, Ikpai, Owom, Old Ndebiji, Ojok, Mbeban, Nkame and Ekang
Although SEMA and NEMA and UNHCR have visited some of these communities, very minimal relief or assistance have reached the people to provide for their immediate needs in this crisis. Presently, the parishioners in the Diocese of Ogoja that have initiated the collection of used clothing and food items from the faithful, to give the refugees through St Vincent de Paul society and JDPC Ogoja. However, this is grossly insufficient, considering the large population of refugees as at our last count.
From our assessments, some of the urgent relief materials needed include:
- Food – Adults and babies
- Blankets and beddings for children
- Sanitary materials for women and girls
- Medicines – diarrheal, fever and high blood pressure drugs.
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene materials
- Shelter/shelter materials
We therefore appeal to the Government of Nigeria and relevant agencies, corporate organisations, Philanthropists, UN Agencies, I/NGOs and the international community to urgently wade into this crisis before it becomes too monstrous and difficult to handle. You can give your support as well through Caritas Nigeria. Account Number: Zenith Bank 1012829522 Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, Catholic Secretariat Abuja.
Fr. Evaristus Bassey