Nigerian Refugees in Cameroon: Understanding the Politics of Voluntary Refugee Repatriation

Ugo Igariwey Iduma, Musa Yahi Musa


The paper observes that the inability of the Nigerian government to defeat Boko Haram has created a stream of problems for Cameroon as the paper identifies some Boko Haram activities in Cameroon is prompting a premature repatriation of Nigerian refugees by the Cameroonian government. According to the National Emergency Agency reports in 2015 the Cameroonian government forcefully repatriated 3.500 Nigerian refugees, the report added that the refugees were not informed of their return and were transported like animals, and dropped at home in cruel conditions. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (2004) explains that the premature repatriation of Nigerian refugee is a violation of the principle of non-refoulement as the condition in the North East is not conducive for the repatriation of Nigerian refugees. Thus, a tripartite agreement was reached between Nigeria, Cameroon, and UNHCR to ensure the safety and legality of the return of Nigerian refugees. The paper investigates the efforts of the Nigerian government towards the proper repatriation and reintegration of the refugees in safety and dignity. Using secondary data, the paper concluded that repatriation of the Nigerian refugees intended to address the humanitarian needs of the refugees is rather serving the political interest of various actor. The paper recommends a sustainable reintegration framework be established for the returnees. 

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