As there are growing concerns over the health and nutritional status of the thousands of refugees recently sent back home from Goura, Cameroon to Rann, Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, humanitarian organizations have tasked the Federal Government on protection of returnees.
The Forum of International Non Governmental Organisations (INGOs) called on the Federal Government to adopt proactive rapid response measures to assist returnees in Borno.
INGO’s Communication Officer, Mashood Raimi, made the appeal in a statement on Tuesday in Maiduguri.
Raimi said the call was imperative to facilitate humanitarian response to over 30,000 persons who returned and settled at Rann, in Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno.
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He explained that the 51 members of the forum had expressed deep concern over the grave humanitarian situation facing approximately 30,000 displaced persons who returned to the border community.
The statement quoted Jennifer Jalovec, the Director of the forum, as saying: “Rann, which recently endured two horrific attacks in December and January, is located approximately 12 kilometers from the border of Cameroon.
“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.
“Members of the INGO Forum have raised alarm over the insufficient services and supplies – including food, safe water and critical medical services in Rann.
“These insufficient services have made it difficult to meet the basic needs of the tens of thousands of people that are returning from Goura, Cameroon.”
The statement added that the attacks by Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) led to the withdrawal of humanitarian agencies from the area, while more than 40,000 inhabitants fled the town and sought safety across the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
The forum also noted that the volatile security situation made it impossible for humanitarian organisations 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.
“This includes the extent of the needs, intentions and location of affected populations. Despite well-documented reasons for leaving, there are conflicting reports, stating why over 30,000 people have suddenly returned.
“The INGO takes this opportunity to draw attention to the current additional humanitarian crisis unfolding, resulting in over 30,000 people who have returned having little or 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.
“Government should follow this conditions as outlined in the endorsed Borno Return Strategy 2018; and international laws.
“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 that the conditions do not currently support safe and structured interventions,” it said.