Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has described the alleged mass forced return of over 100,000 Nigerian asylum seekers by Cameroonian military as worrisome and disturbing.
In a statement on Friday, she decried the inhuman treatment meted out to Nigerian asylum seekers who were affected by the Boko Haram insurgence in the North East. Dabiri-Erewa noted with concern that despite the friendly relationship between the two countries, the alleged mass forced return of Nigerians was disturbing and calls for concern.
The Presidential aide said Cameroon should heed the UN’s call on all countries to protect refugees fleeing the carnage in North East Nigeria and not to return them there. “This unfriendly attitude of the Cameroonian soldiers to Nigerian asylum seekers is really worrisome.’’, Dabiri-Erewa stressed. She appealed to ECOWAS as well as other West African regional groups to prevail on Cameroon to be their brothers’ keeper in a situation like this.
The deportations, according to Human Rights Watch, defy the UN refugee agency’s plea not to return anyone to North-East Nigeria until the security and human rights situation has improved considerably.
Although UNHCR does not have reliable access to most of Cameroon’s border areas with Nigeria, in early June it said its monitoring partners found Cameroon had forcibly returned almost 100,000 Nigerians to their country since January 2015.
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 generalized violence, such as in North-East Nigeria.