Over the past few months, news of mass refugee returns became a major concern to the Nigerian Government and the humanitarian community when in March 2017, it was reported that over 2,600 Nigerians have been forced to return to Nigeria from Cameroon since the beginning of the year. This raised concerns of refoulements thus the matter was flagged by the Chief Humanitarian Coordinator with the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a bid to ensure the human rights and dignity of the refugees are being upheld. The return trend became particularly worrisome given that a tripartite agreement had been signed on the 2nd of March 2017 by Nigeria, Cameroon and UNCHR to facilitate the return of Nigerians when return areas were favourable. Despite the tripartite agreement, the Nigerian humanitarian community continued to witness an increasing trend of refugee returns from Cameroon into Borno State in Nigeria. In particular, thousands of returnees are returning from Minawao camp in Cameroon through Banki, where humanitarian actors are already providing life-saving response to affected populations in IDP camps. Many of these returnees are then continuing their journey to their various areas of origin in particular to Bama, Mubi, Gwoza and Pulka, where humanitarian response efforts are ongoing as well. As a result, numerous conversations were held within the Nigerian Government, with the Cameroonian Government, as well as with IOM and UNHCR.


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