From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has said that no fewer than 322,000 Nigerians currently live in Niger, Chad and Cameroon as refugees.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed yesterday in Abuja, after receiving report from tripartite agreement for voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees.
Umar Farouq explained that after the ratification of the draft, government will kickstart preparations for the repatriation those Nigerians from the Republic of Niger and Chad.
“A total of Three Hundred and Twenty-Two Thousand (322,000) Nigerian refugees are currently living in neighbouring countries.
“Out of the figures, Niger currently hosts One Hundred and Eighty-Six Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Seven (186,957) refugees, the Republic of Cameroon has One Hundred and Eighteen Thousand, Four Hundred and Nine Thousand (118,409) refugees while Sixteen Thousand, Six Hundred and Thirty-Four Thousand (16,634) refugees are in the Republic of Chad.
“With the large number of refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the Federal Government of Nigeria has officially initiated talks with the Governments of Chad and Niger to sign tripartite agreements similar to the one we have with the Republic of Cameroon.
“I am happy to inform you that we already have a draft copy of the Tripartite Agreement for Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerian Refugees in Niger and Chad Republics,” she said.
The Minister, who was hitherto the Chairperson of the TWG, officially handed over the position to the new Honourable Federal Commissioner Iman Suleiman-Ibrahim.
On his part, Ibrahim thanked the minister for the confidence reposed in her and sought the cooperation of all partners in efforts to bring back the refugees in safety and dignity.
She said: “Part of the governance infrastructure for carrying out this exercises includes the Borno State Government and some selected Federal Government MDAs as well as the UNHCR, our invaluable Technical Partner, all of who have crucial roles to play.
“It goes without saying that we need to work in synergy to ensure a successful voluntary repatriation in line with the Presidential directive.”
She, also, urged members of the TWG to contribute meaningfully to discussions on updates to carry out their assignment.
The TWG is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the safe return of Nigerian Refugees and comprises of representatives of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, (NCFRMI) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, North East Development Commission, (UNHCR).
Others are the Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of Security Services, National Security Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Police Force, Ministry of Health and the BAY states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe).
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