The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has intensified training of stakeholders as part of continued registration and profiling of returning refugees from neighbouring countries to their habitual areas of residence,against a background of increasing refugee and IDP returnees.
The first phase of the training for 2017 took place on 30 January at the UNHCR Guest House in Maiduguri and included Local government area (LGA) chairmen and District Heads of Councils for all LGAs in Borno state. NGOs partnering with the UN agency in Borno state were also invited.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop the Head of Sub-Office Maiduguri , Cesar Tschilombo underscored the importance of properly planned return operations to ensure voluntary and sustainable returns in conditions of safety and dignity, and to avoid second displacement as returnees search for basic needs including food, shelter and medical care.
He observed that this fact necessitates a comprehensive approach from all stakeholders. He pointed out that UNHCR is working with LGA leaders under the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to ensure monitoring of return areas and protection assistance to the most vulnerable returnees.
The objectives of the workshop included the necessity to highlight acceptable standards for returnee operations in acceptable conditions; conduct focus group discussion with LGA leaders on factors that influence returns; to obtain their views on aspects that should be included in the returnees survey tools; and to get their views on what has been done so far and what is desired for 2017 protection interventions.
IDPs and returnees movements will include movement from camps in Maiduguri to the newly liberated areas including through government-facilitated programs; movement of IDPs within and from LGAs where counterinsurgency is ongoing and movement of IDPs from neighbouring countries back to Nigeria.
Registration and profiling is one of the major activities of the UN agency for refugees in which it has relevant expertise alongside other organisations.
In 2016, the agency collaborated with the Nigerian Immigration Service to register and assist 136,491 refugee returnees from Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic in the border areas of Gamburu Ngala in Borno state, Sauda in Adamawa state and Geshua/Geidam in Yobe states.
As the military continues to recapture territory and secure civilian locations in Borno state and northeast Nigeria, more areas are expected to become accessible to humanitarian organizations in the coming months. Nigeria and Cameroon are in the process of finalising a tripartite agreement on return.