This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, together with the local authorities in Southeastern Nigeria, is assisting recently arrived Cameroonians seeking refuge and safety. Thousands have fled to Nigeria following renewed violence in Anglophone parts of Cameroon earlier in October.
Together with the Nigerian authorities, we have registered some 2,000 people so far, with the help of our local partners in various locations in Southeastern Nigeria. An additional 3,000 are awaiting registration, while more people might be trapped in forests on the Cameroonian side as they attempt to cross the border.
UNHCR and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) are distributing relief items in Nigeria’s Cross River State.
UNHCR/Nigeria teams are jointly visiting different locations to better assess the situation and register new arrivals. We have also delivered relief items such as mattresses and blankets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils or hygiene kits, as well as 40 tons of food. UNHCR will continue the distribution of relief materials in several locations this week.
UNHCR is working with the Nigerian government and other UN agencies on a contingency plan, readying humanitarian assistance for up to 40,000 people crossing into Nigeria. Our fear, however, is that 40,000 might actually be a conservative figure in a situation where the conflict might continue.
Nigeria and Cameroon are already grappling with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with 2.5 million people displaced by Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad region. The current influx of Cameroonian seeking refuge in Nigeria poses additional challenges to the international community and burden to an already stretched assistance.