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23 Nigerians killed in Bakassi, 3,300 displaced

By Anietie Akpan, Calabar   |   18 December 2009   |   3:42 pm  

Most of the displaced, especially children and women, are currently at the Bakassi Returnee camp at Ekpri Ikang, Cross River State, thereby over-stretching the facilities originally meant for about 400 persons.

In late October when the crisis started, the first batch of returnees was just 700, but the situation is now worse as Nigerians flee the peninsula daily.

The Secretary General of Nigerian Union in Cameroun, Prince Aston Arung, who disclosed this yesterday, said 23 Nigerians were confirmed killed by the Gendarmes. One of them, he said, died at the camp from gunshot wounds.

Arung pointed out that over 12,000 Nigerians live in the peninsula doing legitimate business of fishing.

He painted a horrific picture of Nigerians living in the peninsula and called for a thorough investigation by the United Nations (UN) to unravel the reason for the tension in the area.

The Secretary General emphasised that while the Nigerian government has been obedient to the Green Tree Accord, the Camerounian government has grossly violated the agreement.

However, this latest figure has terribly stretched facilities at the Bakassi Returnee camp at Ekpri Ikang and returnees are calling on the Federal Government to mount pressure on the states having indigenes at the camp to support the efforts of the Cross River State Government in caring for them.

The returnees made the appeal during an interactive session with the Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Hajiya Hadiza Sani Kangiwa, who visited the camp on December 16.

The returnees, numbering about 3,300 comprising of a substantial number from Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta and Cross River states, complained that apart from the succour being provided by the Cross River State Government through its humanitarian agency, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), no state has expressed sympathy for them by any means.

The refugees, who spoke through their various state leaders, said the lack of sensitivity to their plights by their home states creates disillusionment and abandonment, which they claimed affects them psychologically.

They urged the Federal Government to impress it upon the United Nations to make the Cameroun Government to adhere to the Green Tree Agreement.

Kangiwa said that her mission was a fact-finding one designed to enable the Federal Government assess the needs of the people.

She emphasised that the pathetic situation the people were facing was absolutely incompatible with the global campaign for peace in which Nigeria is a collaborator.

While announcing the donation of some materials to the returnees, which included camp stoves, rice, beans, mats, cooking oils and pots, the commissioner said their proposals would be given adequate attention as the Federal Government was not unaware of their sufferings, pointing out that succour would surely be provided.

Hajiya Kangiwa said the returnees would be given opportunities to acquire skills and thereafter empowered so that they can live a normal life once again.



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