The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has confirmed that Cameroon has forcibly repatriated more than 500 Nigerians who had fled into the country due to the Boko Haram insurgency.
According to AFP, a statement issued by UNHCR indicated that a total of 517 Nigerians were sent back to their home country, including 313 who had applied for asylum.
The report also stated that the repatriation occurred between February 10 – 15, 2017.
“UNHCR, aware of the security challenges in the area as a result of the recurring attacks by the Boko Haram sect, continues to advocate with the Cameroonian authorities in order to maintain access to asylum and respect the rights of asylum seekers,” the report said.
UNHCR further disclosed that it would on 2 March, sign an agreement with both countries to allow for the voluntary return of more than 85,000 Nigerian refugees.
As of 17 February, more than 61,000 Nigerian refugees have been registered in the camp of Minawao (far north of Cameroon), but many others live outside the site, according to UNHCR.
The Boko Haram attacks also forced many Cameroonians to flee their villages in border areas. On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) distributed food to 2,500 displaced households living in precarious conditions in the locality of Kolofata, an AFP journalist reported.
Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group that has now fragmented into two factions, took up arms against the Nigerian government in 2009.
The conflict, which has spread from northeast Nigeria to other countries in the Lake Chad region, has displaced more than 2 million people.