For receiving government assistance: Anglophones in Nigeria risk losing refugee status

The government of Cameroon has come under intense criticism after its consulate in Calabar, Nigeria distributed aid to refugees escaping from the Anglophone Crisis in the North West and South West regions.

In a release yesterday, the Denis Hurley Peace Institute and the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights noted that the action was in violation of Nigeria’s National Commission for Refugees, NCR Act of 1989 and the UN Convention on Status of Refugees, 1951.

The Nigerian NCR and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR the organisations added are the only legal bodies permitted to register provide assistance to refugees living in Nigeria.

“By being registered by the Cameroonian Consulate in Calabar and by receiving food items from the consulate, the Cameroonian refugees in Cross River state are in fact availing themselves to the protection of the Cameroonian government” the release read. By so doing it added, “they inadvertently fall outside the legal definition of a refugee and risk having their refugee status in Nigeria revoked and being returned to Cameroon”.

” We herewith request the Cameroonian consulate in Calabar to cease with immediate effect the registration of Cameroonian refugees in Cross River state and to leave the registration of Cameroonian refugees and the provision of humanitarian assistance to them, to the competent authorities, namely the Nigerian National Commission for Refugees and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees ” they added.

Nigeria’s Cross River state it should be noted currently hosts several thousand refugees from Cameroon escaping from the ensuing violence in the Anglophone regions of the country. Prior to Government’s gesture towards them today, several other humanitarian agencies have taken turns to assist the refugees in one way or another.

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