The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has said that over three hundred and twenty-two thousand (322,000) Nigerian refugees are currently living in neighbouring countries.
A statement signed on Thursday by the Special Adviser on Media, Nneka Ikem Anibeze quoted the Minister, while receiving the Draft on Tripartite Agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees in the Niger Republic and Chad at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre Abuja.
The Technical Working Group (TWG) on the repatriation of Nigerian Refugees in Cameroon made the presentation.
The statement noted that out of the figures, Niger currently hosts 186,957 refugees, the Republic of Cameroon has 118,409 refugees while 16,634 refugees are in the Republic of Chad.
“With a large number of refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the Federal Government of Nigeria has officially initiated talks with the Governments of Chad and Niger to sign tripartite agreements similar to the one we have with the Republic of Cameroon.
“I am happy to inform you that we already have a draft copy of the Tripartite Agreement for Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerian Refugees in Niger and Chad Republics”.
According to the minister, the draft, after its ratification will kickstart preparations for the repatriation of refugees from the Republic of Niger and Chad.
Farouq who was hitherto the Chairperson of the TWG officially handed over the position to the new Honourable Federal Commissioner Iman Suleiman-Ibrahim.
In her address, Mrs Ibrahim thanked the minister for the confidence reposed in her and sought the cooperation of all partners to bring back the refugees in safety and dignity.
“Part of the governance infrastructure for carrying out this exercise includes the Borno State Government and some selected Federal Government MDAs as well as the UNHCR, our invaluable Technical Partner, all of who have crucial roles to play.
“We need to work in synergy to ensure a successful voluntary repatriation in line with the Presidential directive”.
The Commissioner also urged members of the TWG to contribute meaningfully to discussions on updates to carry out their assignments.
The TWG is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the safe return of Nigerian Refugees. It comprises representatives of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, (NCFRMI) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the North East Development Commission.
Others are the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services, National Security Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Police Force, Ministry of Health and the BAY states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe)