Cameroon continues to return Nigerian refugees and asylum seekers entering the country’s far north region in what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says is a violation of the international principle of non-refoulement.
Some 385 Nigerians have been forcibly returned by the Cameroonian government, despite the fact that many are fleeing Boko Haram violence. On April 17, there were 118 asylum seekers who were returned to Borno State after two days in Cameroon. The week before, 160 refugees were sent back to the violence in Borno; they had been living in Cameroon’s Waza district since 2014.
“UNHCR appeals once again to the authorities in Cameroon to refrain from further forced returns and to ensure protection to those fleeing insecurity and persecution in Nigeria, in accordance with Cameroon’s national and international obligations,” the organization said Friday.
In total, UNHCR has registered some 87,600 Nigerian refugees in the country.
While recognizing the legitimate national security concerns because of the Boko Haram crisis, UNHCR stressed that both refugee protection and national security are achievable and compatible goals.
“Properly functioning screening, registration and asylum systems help safeguard host country security,” UNHCR said.
UNHCR reiterated support for Cameroon in ensuring that those seeking international protection have appropriate reception arrangements as well as proper procedures.