UNHCR calls for additional $9.5 million support to respond to Nigerian refugees
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has today, Thursday, 27th of July, in a press release, launched a supplementary appeal for an additional $9.5 million to scale up its activities in north-east Nigeria, as a result of an unexpected surge in self-organized returns of Nigerian refugees since the beginning of the year, mainly from Cameroon.
Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, noted that the call by UNHCR is an urgent one which needed to be attended to will immediate alacrity. According to the report, returnees are suffering as a result of not been able to return home.
“This is a new emergency, which requires urgent attention. Many of these returnees are unable to go back to their homes due to security concerns and end up being displaced again, in dire humanitarian conditions. Even if UNHCR does not promote or facilitate these returns, we must do everything we can to assist these vulnerable people.”
The situation is out there in the North East is reportedly serious as many returnees stay in camps and displacement sites in precarious and overcrowded conditions. The situation is particularly difficult in the town of Banki, in north-east Nigeria, where many are forced to live outdoors and have limited access to drinking water, food and medicine.
“During my recent visit to the region, I was not only appalled by the scale of the humanitarian needs, but also deeply shocked at the level of trauma, social division and distrust,” Türk further disclosed.
“We urge the international community to pay more attention to this highly complex and challenging humanitarian and security situation.”
As vulnerabilities increase over time, funding is, unfortunately, lagging behind needs. So far, UNHCR has received $41.1 million from donors out of a total funding requirement of $179.5 million for 2017 for Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
“The current funding for the relief effort does not do justice to the exceptional hospitality offered by host governments and communities,” said Valentin Tapsoba, Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Africa, during a donor briefing on the Nigeria situation on 24 July, 2017.
The release from the UNHCR reveals that additional funding would allow UNHCR to increase its presence in border locations and improve border and protection monitoring. The UN Refugee Agency also has plans to expand reception facilities and launch mass information campaigns to ensure that Nigerian refugees in Cameroon’s Far North have accurate and updated information on the situation prevailing in areas of return in Nigeria.
“In my recent discussions with both Governments, I also stressed the need to set up a mechanism that can both address legitimate security concerns and the protection needs of refugees,” he added. “I received assurances that action had been taken to stop involuntary returns, an issue that has been of deep concern to UNHCR,” Türk stated.
Correspondent: Ridwan A. Olayiwola