The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, says alleged forced deportation of over 100,000 Nigerians by Cameroonian military is worrisome.
In a statement by her Media Assistant, Abdul-Rahman Balogun, she decried the “inhuman treatment’’ meted to Nigerian asylum seekers, who were affected by Boko Haram insurgence in the North-East.
Dabiri-Erewa noted that in spite of the friendly disposition between both countries, Cameroon allegedly forced Nigerians to leave.
She said that Cameroon should heed the UN’s call on all countries to protect refugees fleeing the carnage in the North-East of 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 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other West African regional groups to prevail on Cameroon to be “their brothers’ keeper in a situation like this’’.
She said that deportations, according to Human Rights Watch, defied UN refugee agency’s plea not to return anyone to North-East of Nigeria until the security and human rights situation had improved considerably.
The presidential aide said that a 55-page Human Rights report entitled “They Forced Us onto Trucks like Animals: Cameroon’s Mass Forced Return and Abuse of Nigerian Refugees,” condemned the act.
The report, according to her, states that since early 2015, Cameroonian soldiers had tortured, assaulted, and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers in remote border areas.
She said that the report added that the soldiers also denied the Nigerians access to the UN refugee agency, and summarily deported, often violently, tens of thousands to Nigeria.
“It also documents violence, poor conditions and unlawful movement restrictions in Cameroon’s only official camp for Nigerian refugees as well as conditions recent returnees face in Nigeria,’’ she said.
Dabiri-Erewa said that Cameroon’s forced returns breached UN principles, which prohibited forceful return of refugees and asylum seekers to persecution and, under regional standards in Africa, to situations of generalised violence such as in Nigeria’s North-East.