No fewer than 887 Nigerian refugees from Cameroon Tuesday arrived Borno as a result of a request from Camerounian government to Nigeria to facilitate their return.
Mr Hanson Tamfu, the External Relations Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Nigeria, made known in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
Tamfu said that the request was prompted by fear and suspicions of the Cameroonian authorities that among the refugees might include some elements of Boko Haram. The refugees arrived ib six trucks sent by Nigeria after a meeting with the governor of the far north region of Cameroun on June 19.
“During the meeting, Nigeria was requested to cause the return of refugees, which the Cameroonian authority suspects may also compromise some elements of Boko Haram whose activities have increased tremendously in recent times.
“Consequently, the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) on June 26 dispatched the buses to transport the refugees,’’ Tamfu said.
Tamfu said that the latest group of returnees comprises 233 females, 187 males, 236 girls, and 231 boys who were living in host communities in Kolofata, a far north region of Cameroon.
He said it was reported that most of them do not have much in terms of personal effects but a few items in plastic sacks while some returned completely empty handed.Tamfu said that UNHCR responded immediately by providing wet feeding, adding that it also would contact the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Borno SEMA to continue with food provision.
He said that more returnees had indicated interest to leave Minawowa Camp in Cameroon, adding that they were anxious to return following the media reports about improved security back home.
He said they were also eager to return on hearing the government’s decision to distribute food to all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno.
The official registered returnees from Cameroon through Banki now stood at 19,257.
In the meantime, Pirate attacks in the coast of Nigeria, reduced significantly in the first half of 2017 following some measures adopted by the Federal Government, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali has said.
Dan-Ali disclosed this in Rome, Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of representatives of Government of G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea and representatives of Gulf of Guinea States.
He said only four successful attacks were recorded out of 16 of such attempted attacks during the period.
The minister stated that when compared to same period in 2016, there were more attacks as 36 successful attacks were recorded out of 55 attempted attacks.
“As we may be aware in recent years, the socio-economic agitations in the Niger Delta have elicited significant maritime security challenges such as attacks on shipping, kidnapping, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and refining have remained challenging.
“Nevertheless, the combination of infrastructure development programmes, engagements with local communities, sustenance of the Amnesty Programme for repentant ex-militants and improved maritime policing activities have proved effective in stemming the tide of insecurity around the coast of Nigeria.
“This is a direct reflection of the activation of dedicated anti-piracy Operation TSARE TEKU off the coast of Niger Delta.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has also initiated plans to establish modular refineries and other programmes to curb crude oil theft and to promote youth employment in the region,’’ the minister said.
Dan-Ali, however, expressed concern of Nigeria about IUUF – Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing activities by foreign flagged ships in the nation’s coastal area.
He said that Nigeria was also concerned about the persistent involvement of other nationals in the crude oil theft and piracy activities in the Niger Delta.
“In the course of Nigerian Navy’s anti-piracy operations, we have also seen a trend of preference for kidnap-for-ransom, with involvement of negotiators from outside the region,’’ he said.
The minister, therefore, called for more engaging cooperation and operational collaboration among Gulf of Guinea states and with the G7++ in information sharing on maritime criminal networks, individuals and vessels.
He assured that Nigeria remains committed to the objectives of the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and recently adopted AU Charter on Maritime Security Safety and Development.
Source: With reports from Punch