The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called on Nigerian government and neigbouring countries to provide adequate protection for the displaced people as troops of the Special Forces continue to battle the Boko Haram insurgency in the northern part of the country.
The Agency claimed that more people are fleeing the north-east Nigeria and expressed concern that they are being turned back by the neigbouring countries.
It therefore, urged governments of the countries that border Nigeria to allow the displaced people to enter their counties, assuring that UNCHR would be willing to assist and provide comfort as they arrive.
A statement by the UNHCR’s Africa Bureau, George Okoth-Obbo in Geneva, said they have been able to confirm that no fewer than 2,400 people from Nigeria have arrived Niger Republic.
The Agency stated further that as the activities of Boko Haram and the government response continue, humanitarian agencies fear further displacement and an influx of Nigerian asylum-seekers, or even third country nationals, into neighboring countries.
“UNHCR remains concerned for the safety of the civilian population, especially those who may be forced to flee from their homes in search of safety.
“In Niger, UNHCR has confirmed the arrival of at least 2,400 people from Nigeria. Elsewhere, reports suggest that Nigerians may have been prevented from entering Cameroon because of measures taken to prevent the infiltration of armed groups. UNHCR is in contact with the Cameroon authorities to verify the reports and their impact on legitimate asylum-seekers.
“The authorities have a legitimate responsibility to secure national security. At the same time, it is vital to ensure the safety and protection of civilians caught in this situation and their right to seek asylum in neighbouring countries,” Okoth-Obbo stated.
UNHCR also reminded Nigeria and her neighbours that they are all signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, insisting they should “allow civilians fleeing insecurity or other risks to enter their territory.”