- BY REMILEKUN DARAMOLA in Maiduguri•
Thirty thousand Nigerian refugees recently ejected from Cameroon are at the risk of insurgency attack and lack access to basic humanitarian services; the Nigeria INGO forum (NIF) has raised an alarm.
The Nigeria INGO Forum, an umbrella body comprised of 51 international non-government organisations (INGOs), on Tuesday in a statement expressed deep concerned over the grave humanitarian situation facing approximately 30,000 displaced people reported to have returned to Rann, a town in north-east Nigeria.
Rann, which recently endured two horrific attacks in December and January, is located approximately 12 kilometres from the border of Cameroon.
The INGO Forum, in the statement said from current reports, “there is a complete lack of access to basic services, security and protection for those that have returned, thus resulting in large scale humanitarian needs not being met.”
The statement, which quoted Jennifer Jalovec, Director of the INGO Forum, said: “Members of the INGO Forum have raised alarm over the insufficient services and supplies – including food, safe water and critical medical services– available in Rann to meet the basic needs of the tens of thousands of people that are returning from Goura.”
Jalovec decried that the recent December and January attacks on Rann by Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) led to the withdrawal of all humanitarian agencies from the area, lamenting that: “The town witnessed devastation including burning of several shelters, homes and market stalls and the destruction and looting of humanitarian facilities including a medical clinic and a mobile food storage unit.
“A large number of civilians were killed or injured, prompting more than 40,000 people between January and February to urgently flee and seek safety across the border.
“The volatile security situation has made it impossible for humanitarians to access Rann with much needed life-saving assistance.
“Lack of access has resulted in inadequate monitoring and incomplete information about the full extent of the crisis, including the extent of the needs and the intentions and location of affected populations.”
The statement said: “Despite well-documented reasons for leaving, there are conflicting reports stating why over 30,000 people have suddenly returned.
“The Nigeria INGO Forum (NIF) takes this opportunity to draw attention to the current additional humanitarian crisis unfolding, resulting in over 30,000 people who have returned having little to no access to basic services and assistance.
“We encourage the Federal Government of Nigeria, including the Borno State government, to ensure people are provided with satisfactory conditions of safety, dignity and security, as outlined in the endorsed Borno Returns Strategy (2018) and international law.
“We urgently call on the Borno State government to further strengthen relations with the humanitarian community and to uphold the Borno Returns Strategy especially in Rann where we understand the conditions do not currently support safe and structured interventions,” the statement lamented.