200,000 migrants, refugees enter Cross River in four years

Kidnappers seem to have set their sights on Calabar metropolis, as gunmen are reported to have abducted for ransom six people in ten days.

The Cross River State Government has disclosed that in the last four years, 200, 000 refugees have moved into the state, with about 50, 000 of them being displayed from the Republic of Cameroon due to the ongoing civil strife in the country.

The Director-General of the state Migration and Control Agency, Mr Mike Abua, who stated this yesterday in Calabar, the state capital, in response to questions from journalists, charged the federal government and the International Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Internally Displaced, Persons (ICMRIDP) to conduct a comprehensive survey in the state in order to ascertain the number of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) living as refugees in the state.

Abua spoke on the sideline of a workshop organised by Children of Rural Africa-Nigeria (COR Africa) in Calabar, where he also presented a paper entitled: ‘Agro-business and Education Opportunities for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced’.

Abuo stated that with a survey, it would be easy for a database to be created that would enable the government to have a reliable figure concerning the number of migrants and refugees in the state.

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He said due to the fact that Cross River State shares a very long border with Cameroon, thousands of people seeking refuge have infiltrated the state.

The DG disclosed that about 50,000 people, who were displaced as a result of civil unrest occasioned by inter-tribal and communal clashes for a mere parcel of land, are also dwelling somewhere in the state.

Abuo said about 100,000 displaced people from Bakassi peninsular, which was handed over to Cameroon, are still currently being held up in a bad condition in the Obanlikwu Local Government Area of the state.

He said the database would help the government to plan ahead of time in terms of infrastructures that can provide succour for the refugees and the internally displaced persons.

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He said: “We have an influx of thousands of refugees because of the civil war in Cameroon, and it’s overwhelming. This is not something that the state government alone can handle.

“So we are calling on the UNHCR to stand by us by improving the good works that they have been doing with the IOM and other international organisations to provide some funding and interventions.

“We call for an increase in terms of international funding to provide succour for these persons.

“The little facility that is available is enough to cater for the number of refugees that are in the state.”

Also speaking, the National Programme Director, COR Africa-Nigeria, Dr Jimoh Odunayo, said his organisation had previously provided skill acquisition programmes and livelihood support for the refugees so as to prepare them for easy reintegration into the society.

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