By Musa Adamu
Borno Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum on Thursday met Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama to conclude intergovernmental efforts for voluntary repatriation of thousands of Borno citizens currently taking refuge in parts of Cameroon, after fleeing from Boko Haram attacks in batches, within the last six years.
The meeting which held at the federal ministry of foreign affairs in Abuja, was a follow up to Zulum’s series of meetings with minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, top executives of the National commission for refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, among and other stakeholders.
The Thursday meeting, which held behind closed doors, discussed the role of the federal ministry of foreign affairs which has the mandate to facilitate the repatriation through diplomatic channels, with the hope to undertake it, in January 2021
The meeting was attended by Nigeria’s serving Ambassador to China, Amb. Baba Ahmad Jidda, who was there as a statesman from Borno state.
More than 60,000 Nigerian refugees, majority from Borno and some from Adamawa states are believed to be in Minwao camp in Cameroon, which Zulum had visited and supported with social protection relief.
The governor has also approved ongoing construction of thousands of houses in which repatriated refugees will be permanently resettled in safe communities.
Zulum was also in the Niger republic and the republic of chad where Borno citizens are always there as refugees who fled insurgent attacks. In both countries, the governor authorized and supervised the distribution of food items and cash relief to thousands of families, some of whom the governor had to cross Lake Chad waters in order to reach them Baga Sola refugee camp within the Chadian border territory. N50m was distributed to 5,000 families in the area in less than three weeks ago.
Within that same period, Zulum was in N’Djamena in Chad, and was hosted by President Idris Deby to discuss repatriation of thousands of Nigerian refugees, majority from Borno. The meeting, held at the presidential palace, was attended by Nigerian ambassador to Chad, Zannah Umar Bukar Kolo, who represented Nigeria’s federal ministry of foreign affairs.