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Government approves release of ₦15 billion for the immediate repatriation of refugees

4 April 2023
Reading time: 3 minutes

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of ₦15 billion for the immediate repatriation of Nigerian refugees living in the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

The refugees originally fled their hometowns and communities because of persistent deadly attacks by insurgents.

Civil society groups said they were extremely grateful because many refugees had been living in the neighbouring countries for eight or more years and they desperately wanted to return to their homeland.

Of the ₦15 billion, ₦6 billion was given to the Borno State government; ₦3 billion to defence headquarters; ₦2.5 billion to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); and ₦3 billion to the Refugee Commission to fast track the plan organised by the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Return and Resettlement of Refugees, which received ₦500 million.

Bulama Abiso, executive director of the Network of Civil Society Organisations in Borno State, told RNI that the network was extremely grateful for the disbursement.

“The money will enable us to put in place all necessary measures, such as rebuilding destroyed communities and enhancing security, to ensure the safe repatriation of the refugees from Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

“We had hoped to be part of the committee but we will serve as a watchdog to ensure that the money is spent on the purposes intended and in an accountable and transparent manner.”

Munyam Banki, a member of the Borno State committee on the repatriation of refugees of Banki in the Bama Local Government Area, said: “The refugees in Moura and other parts of Cameroon were extremely excited to hear about the disbursement, some of which will be used to rebuild their destroyed homes. Most of them are eager to return to their ancestral land so that they can farm and do business as before.

“The Borno State governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, is the vice-chairman of the Presidential Committee on Repatriation, Return and Resettlement of Refugees. He was given the role and responsibility because he has already resettled people in more than 20 displaced communities in Baga, Abadam, Kirawa and Bama.”

At a meeting held on Friday, March 31, to discuss the settlement of refugees, committee chairman Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo recommended that the sum of ₦15 billion should be disbursed for the next phase of the repatriation exercise, which would begin with immediate effect.

Zulum said: “We are here to discuss modalities of implementation, such as which group will do what. It has been a good discussion. Many items will be procured so that repatriation will take place soon.

“More than 300,000 people have already been repatriated,” he said.

Zulum spoke about what food and other essentials would be given to the returnees. Other issues discussed included what kind of houses would be built, transportation for the refugees’ return and what the minimum threshold would be required to return people from the neighbouring countries.



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