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Nigeria: Cameroon Influx, Issue #9 (9 March 2018)

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

From 1-8 March, 2,501 Cameroonian asylum seekers were registered in Kwande and Odukpani Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Benue state, bringing the total number registered so far to 20,291 individuals since the influx started in October 2017.

UNHCR commenced monitoring activities at border crossing points in Danare, Basua, Biaju, Abandiku and Apkarabong, Cross River state. The exercise will better enhance UNHCR’s capacity to effectively monitor movements across multiple border entry points and facilitate the delivery of protection to those fleeing the crisis in Cameroon. The exercise is getting the support of local officials and village leaders as well as the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and other relevant state security agencies.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

As the crisis in the Anglophone regions continues, the Government of Cameroon has taken further measures including the extension of curfew in the North West region, restricting the movement of persons between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m daily for a period of one week starting 4 March. Meanwhile, as tensions continue to heighten, UNHCR partner Rhema Care reports that civilians - mainly women and children are arriving in Nigeria in search of safety and international protection.

CONTEXT UPDATE

On 8 March, officials of Cross River State allocated the land for the construction of a settlement in Okoja LGA to host up to 10,000 Cameroonian asylum seekers. This is part of commitments by Nigeria to support UNHCR move the asylum seekers about 50 kilometres away from the border in line with international protection principles. A joint team of UNHCR and state government officials including the Cross River State Land Commissioner was expected to visit the site on 9 March for a formal handover and proper demarcation to allow UNHCR begin the immediate construction of the ten-thousand capacity camp.

RESPONSE EFFORTS

On 7 March, UNHCR and NCFMI conducted a joint mission to verify reports of the presence of asylum seekers in Akwa-Ibom state. During the visit, the team established the presence of asylum seekers that will be registered in the state later this month. This brings to four, the total number of states receiving Cameroonian asylum seekers in the wake of the ongoing crisis. The other states include Cross River, Benue and Taraba.

A UNHCR mission to Benue state has reported inadequate food, shelter, health care and education facilities in the two LGAs hosting asylum seekers; most of whom are women and children including unaccompanied and separated minors. The situation is reported to be dire as asylum seekers rely heavily on scarce local resources including insufficient food and public services. Locally available health facilities lack essential medicines and trained medical personnel, and asylum seekers are unable to cover the bills. Available education opportunities are also not affordable and food supply remains largely insufficient even though the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has distributed food and non-food items.

In addition, findings from the February 14-18 Joint Multi-Sector Rapid Needs Assessment conducted in Obanliku, Etung, Ikom, Boki and Akamkpa LGAs, Cross River state, show that host communities are overstretched with their resources to continue providing shelter and assistance to the asylum seekers. Water sources are scarce and access to the existing resources limited. The assessment report says seventy five percent of asylum children are out of school and young men and women are getting increasingly frustrated as they struggle daily to make ends meet. The findings further predict that this may increase the risks of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), criminality and disease if measures are not taken to intervene. The exercise gave UN agencies and other humanitarian actors a clearer picture of the emergency situation for better preparedness and interventions.