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Nigerian refugees in Chad will be repatriated at the end of the holy month of Ramadan

29 March 2023
Reading time: 3 minutes

More than 20,000 refugees living in Chad will be repatriated to Nigeria at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, says Borno State governor Babagana Umara Zulum.

The refugees, mostly from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, fled from the country to escape vicious and frequent attacks by the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), more commonly known as Boko Haram, insurgents.

Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) took refuge in Chad and have been there for almost eight years.

They have been waiting to be repatriated to their hometowns where there is now relative peace.

RNI reporter Mahamat Moustapha Mainou said the refugees were first promised they would be repatriated two years ago but it did not happen. Now they have been promised by the Borno State government that repatriation would commence in April or May.

Refugee Alhaji Gambo Umara said: “The governor visited us in Chad two years ago and told us we would be returned to our communities. But we are still here. I really hope he means it this time. I don’t want to be disappointed again.

“If we go back on our own we won’t have money to repair our destroyed homes. We also won’t be able to afford the transport. So, we are waiting patiently for the government to repatriate us.

“We hope the governor will keep his word because we want to go back to our hometowns and communities.”

Kaka Hajja agreed, saying the refugees faced many challenges in Chad but there was nothing they could do because it was not their home.

“We hope he [Zulum] will keep his promise this time.”

Bulama Mommodu said: “There’s no place like home. I want to return.”

Zulum is not only the governor but is also the vice-chairman of the Presidential Committee on Repatriation, Return and Resettlement of Refugees.

On a recent visit to Baga Sola, a town in the Lac Region on the shores of Lake Chad in western Chad, Zulum told RNI that the federal government had already made a plan to return refugees in Chad to Borno State.

“I’m purposely in Baga Sola to discuss modalities for the repatriation of the refugees and very soon we shall embark on the repatriation exercise after the fasting period.

“Their return will be voluntary and managed in a dignified manner. All refugees who wish to go back to their communities will be returned home.

“We plan to return the 20,000 refugees to Nigeria in phases and we plan to start the repatriation after the fasting period of Ramadan.

“The refugees have been in Chad for almost eight years and I thank the Chadian authorities for hosting and helping them for such a long time.’’

The refugees received gifts of 5,000 CFAF each from the state government.

When asked if the government believed that some of the returnees would join an insurgent group, Zulum said that these were false claims and that no one would go back to the forest.


About the author

Aisha Sd Jamal