United Nations begins verification of 18,000 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has commenced verification of 18,000 Cameroonian refugees in Calabar, Cross River State, who had earlier fled to Nigeria to find succor, following crisis in the anglophone part of the neighbouring country which erupted in November 2017,

Penpushing reports that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) explained that the verification is to improve its data on the economic capacities within the population and identify persons with specific needs and extremely vulnerable persons.

The international body added that the verification also targets them for life-saving interventions, including food assistance, non-food items and livelihood support, while in addition to the development, a psychiatric nurse working with Red Cross Society, Udama Stephen said the refugees were in Calabar to renew their identity cards issued by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as a source of identification.

Penpushing further reports that Stephen who spoke with journalists explained that the data with the organisation had shown that about 18,000 refugees from Cameroon would partake in the exercise, adding that they would receive free medical treatment once they present their cards.

‘What we do here is also basically primary healthcare, we deal with common sicknesses like malaria, typhoid, ulcer, cold, body pains and so on, but if it is beyond the primary level, we refer them to a more complex health facility’, he stated.

‘Some of them are sick because they lack access to healthcare, some are physically challenged, and the majority of them don’t have jobs, so the duty of UNHCR is to take care of their basic needs, which includes their health needs. Others include their nutrition, financial support and empowerment for the less-privileged, basically for Cameroonian refugees in Cross River’, Stephen added.

Penpushing also reports that in similar vein, an official of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) who preferred anonymity explained that the officers were present in the verification centre to provide security, as well as ensuring that people who partake in the exercise were truly Cameroonians.

The records, however, recalled that the crisis in the anglophone part of Cameroon erupted in November 2017, following months of crackdown on protesters and strikes by teachers and other professionals in the English-speaking regions

Penpushing reports that a 35-year-old refugee, Tamfu Theodoni, from North-West Cameroon, while speaking recalled and narrated his ordeal and why he decided to flee to Nigeria, adding that he fled his country when his cousin was killed by the Cameroonian soldiers during the crisis

‘I was a University Campus Driver but had to flee to Nigeria after my cousin, who was also a driver, was shot in the head by Cameroonian soldiers. I fled to Nigeria to find succour; I pray for peace and unity between the francophone and anglophone Cameroonians’, he narrated.

Penpushing further reports that as at the time of filing this report refugees who are camped in different locations in Cross River were asked to come with their fact sheets and other relevant documents to be verified as registered refugees.

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