Sunday, July 02, 2017

Islamist Jihad and African Refugee Plight

"Poorer countries hosting huge numbers of refugees for many years, such as Kenya, Pakistan and Turkey, have recently pushed back hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers."
Gerry Simpson, migration expert, Human Rights Watch

"I think host governments are getting sort of fed up that a very large proportion of the burden is falling on them, without enough international assistance."
Kathleen Newland, co-founder, Migration Policy Institute, Washington
An aerial picture taken on February 14, 2017 at Monguno district of Borno State shows a camp for internally displaced people.
Many returnees are ending up in camps in Borno state  AFP

Thousands of Nigerians who crossed the border into Cameroon to find respite from the attacks by Boko Haram were living in crowded refugee camps in the impoverished country that allowed them to find haven, and struggled to support their needs. More recently they were exposed to a concentrated effort on the part of Cameroon authorities to persuade them to return to their own country, with the assurance by those authorities that the situation had returned to normal, their former homes awaited them and peace reigned.

Some, suspecting nothing awry, did return only to find their lives were still endangered, and to discover that little food was available. In the past several months some five thousand Nigerian refugees were summarily rounded up from where they were sheltering in villages in Cameroon and in refugee camps and expelled, forced to return to an area remaining under frequent insurgent attacks. The United Nations feels the number is double that, that in fact ten thousand refugees have been forced to return to the danger from which they had originally fled.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had been arranging agreements to persuade countries sending refugees home, that they only be returned voluntarily. This followed the mass eviction from Cameroon, one of the world's most indigent nations, inundated in recent years to host over 300,000 people crossing their border from wars in the Central African Republic and Nigeria. Many other refugees bowed to pressure to return to northeastern Nigeria where they were greeted by no housing, severe overcrowding and little food and water.

There are areas of Nigeria that Doctors Without Borders discovered to be close to famine conditions. When they entered Banki last summer once Boko Haram was driven out by the Nigerian military, Doctors Without Borders found a crisis, with over ten percent of children suffering acute malnutrition, and people dying of preventable diseases. While back in Cameroon, residents of northern Cameroon placed the cause of their own food shortages on refugees, even as the Cameroonian government struggled to provide for the refugees.

Refugees are seen gathered at Minawao Refugee Camp in northern Cameroon, April 18, 2016. The U.N. refugee agency has called on Cameroon to stop forcibly repatriating Nigerians refugees on its territory.

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