More than 500 Nigerian refugees have been repatriated to the country from Cameroon says United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The refugees had fled the country due to the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east. Of the 517 Nigerians repatriated, 313 had applied for asylum.
Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group that has now fragmented into two factions, took up arms against the Nigerian government in 2009.
The conflict, which has spread from northeast Nigeria to other countries in the Lake Chad region, has displaced more than 2 million people.
UNHCR Cameroon tweeted that it was “very concerned by these repatriations and continues to advocate for access to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement.”
Non-refoulement refers to the practice of not returning refugees to a country where they could face persecution.
UNHCR told AFP that it planned to sign an agreement with Nigeria and Cameroon on March 2 that would see 85,000 Nigerian refugees voluntarily resettled in their home country.
More than 61,000 refugees are currently living at the Minawao camp and a further 20,000 at the Logone-et-Chari camp in Cameroon’s Far North region.
Nigeria and its neighbours have cooperated closely in fighting Boko Haram, which split into a faction aligned with the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and another loyal to long time leader Abubakar Shekau in 2016. (NAN)