About 18,000 Cameroonian refugees have reportedly invaded Cross River State following the conflict in the southern part of Cameroun.
The refugees are expected to go through a verification exercise being organised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Calabar, the state capital.
According to the commission, the refugees who are camped in different locations in Nigeria’s south-south state, have been requested to tender their factsheets and other relevant documents to be verified as registered refugees.
The verification, according to UNHCR, is to improve its data on the economic capacities within the population, identify persons with specific needs and extremely vulnerable persons, and target them for lifesaving interventions, including food assistance, non-food items and livelihood support.
Udama Stephen, a registered mental psychiatric nurse, working with Red Cross Society, said “the refugees are here basically to renew their identity card, that identity card serves as a tool that if they take it to anywhere, they’ll be recognised and the card is been issued by UNHCR.
“The statistics we gathered is that they’re up to 18,000 that will partake in this exercise if they bring the card here. We treat them free of charge and if they have any complications beyond primary healthcare, we refer them to a teaching hospital.
Here is basically primary healthcare, so we deal with common sicknesses like malaria, typhoid, ulcer, cold, body pains etc, but if it’s beyond primary level, we refer them to a more complex health facility”, he said.
“Some of them are sick because they lack access to healthcare, some are physically challenge and the majority of them don’t have a job, so the duty of UNHCR is to take care of their basic needs which include health, nutrition, financial support, and the empowerment of the less privileged.
An officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), who spoke anonymously to our correspondent, said the officers were present in the verification centre to provide security and to ensure that people who partake in the exercise are truly Cameroonians.
Also speaking to our correspondent, one of the refugees, Tamfu Theodoni, 35, from North-West Cameroon, a university campus driver, narrated an ordeal of how his cousin who was also a driver was shot in the head by Cameroonian soldiers, which made him flee to Nigeria to find succour.
He prayed for peace and unity between the francophone and anglophone Cameroonians.