Nearly 900 Nigerian refugees have been repatriated from neighboring Cameroon over fears of their links to Boko Haram militants, the UN said Wednesday.
The repatriation of 887 refugees followed heightened Boko Haram attacks in Kolofata and other northern towns in Cameroon.
Hanson Tamfu of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement that the repatriation came after agreements between the two countries.
The refugees arrived late Tuesday in Nigeria, he said, adding that they included 236 girls and 231 boys who were living in the town of Kolofata.
“The returnees arrived in six trucks sent by Nigerian authorities following the meeting with the governor of the far north region of Cameroon on June 19,” Tamfu said.
“During the meeting, Nigeria was requested to cause the return of refugees, which the Cameroonian authority suspects may also comprise some elements of Boko Haram whose activities have increased tremendously in recent times.
Consequently, the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) on June 26 dispatched the buses to transport the refugees,” he added.
Several thousand Nigerians fled the country between 2012 and 2015 following sporadic attacks by the militant group.
Around 26 million people in the Lake Chad region have been affected by Boko Haram violence and more than 2.6 million displaced, according to the UN.
Cameroon is part of a regional task force that aims to eradicate the militant group that has so far killed more than 2,000 Cameroonians, according to government officials.
Aid to African refugees in Nigeria ending
Also on Wednesday, the UN agency said it will end financial assistance to refugees from Africa residing in Nigeria.
Nigeria hosts refugees from several African countries, including Mali, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Chad and Guinea.
“As refugees, what you need is protection and not continuous assistance,” Antonio Canhandula, the UNHCR’s representative to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), told the refugees in Lagos on Wednesday.
“We cannot continue to discuss how to give you money for food, accommodation and children’s education. You all have to get out of the mentality of continuously getting financial support from UNHCR,” he said.
“Our support is ineffective,” he added.