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the technical working group
By Barnabas Augustine

The Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Nigeria refugees living in Cameroon has during its fourth meeting held between 8th and 10th July, 2019 in Yola the capital of Adamawa State, Nigeria, agreed to start the repatriation process on 21st August, 2019 .

In a joint communique signed by the representatives of the Tripartite Committee: Hounorable Federal Commissioner National Commission for Refugees Migrants and IDPs-Nigeria Hajiya Sadiya Umaru Farouq, Assistant-Director in charge of Relations with Nigeria Ministry of External Relations—Cameroon Akah Judith Ewo, UNHCR Representative-Nigeria and ECOWAS Jose Antonio Canhandula specified that the Yola meeting was in line with the Yaounde, Cameroon meeting of 2nd March, 2017 in which a motion machinery was set for voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon.
Hounorable Federal Commissioner National Commission for Refugees Migrants and IDPs-Nigeria Hajiya Sadiya Umaru Farouk.

Ealier, in the TWG status report, it has revealed that there are about 100,000 Nigerian Refugees from North Eastern Nigeria who had sought asylum in Cameroon. The Communique which was signed by the representatives of the Tripartite Committee read in parts;

“… The delegation from the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was led by Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Honourable Federal Commissioner for the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRM) accompanied by high-ranking Federal and State Government officials".

“The delegation from the Government of Cameroon was led by Mrs. Akah Judith Ewo, Assistant Director in charge of relations with Nigeria at the Ministry of External Relations, accompanied by high ranking Government officials".

“The UNHCR delegation was led by Mr. Jose Antonio Canhandula, Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS accompanied by the UNHCR Representative to Cameroon, Mr. Koussi Lazare Etien and other senior UNHCR officials from Cameroon and Nigeria.

“The TWG delegation was convened to assess the readiness of the Parties for the repatriation of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon, and to review the technicalities and agree on a tentative timeline to start the exercise".

“While recognizing the work done by the TWG, the Parties stressed the need to conclude concrete operational modalities and support measures, to ensure the safe, dignified, voluntary return and suitable reintegration of Nigeria returnees. In so doing, they further reaffirmed their commitment to work within the framework of the Tripartite Agreement".

“Recognizing the efforts done by the Government of Nigeria to restore security and basic services, the TWG noted that sustainable reintegration requires a holistic and community-based approach that would improve absorption capacity and enhance access to basic services and self-reliance for returnees, internally displaced persons and local communities in Nigeria".

“With regards to the readiness of the infrastructure, notably the Transit and Reception centres, the Parties took note of the need to expedite the work in an effort to start with the repatriation on 21 August 2019".

“The Parties call on the International Community to continue to support the Government of Cameroon and UNHCR in delivering protection and assistance to Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, as well as support the Government of Nigeria and UNHCR in the reintegration of returnees.
“Parties expressed their appreciation to the Government of Nigeria and Adamawa State for their hospitality”.

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