The first batch of 300 Central African Republic refugees housed in the Gado Badzere refugee camp in Garoua Boulai and 150 others from the Batouri-Kenzo centre in Cameroon’s Eastern Region have returned home.
HumAngle learnt the refugees returned to their country on Wednesday, June 1, of their own volition.
These 450 returnees are among the 2,550 Central African Republic refugees who have voluntarily returned to their country of origin.
Olivier Beer, the Cameroon Country Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), thanked the Cameroonian authorities who have worked with the UNHCR and other development partners to ensure the security and comfort of the refugees.
Paul Atanga Nji, Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration, thanked the UNHCR and other development partners that have stood by Cameroon to handle the problem of refugees.
He said the repatriation exercise started five years ago, noting that escalating violence in CAR and the COVID-19 pandemic compounded issues, which forced the repatriation to be suspended.
The minister declared that with calm gradually returning to the Central African Republic, most refugees have opted to return to their country of origin.
The returning refugees received unique gifts comprising blankets, buckets, vegetable oil, rice and toiletries.
The voluntary repatriation is coming on the heels of the UNHCR High Commissioner, Fillipo Ghrandi’s visit to Cameroon, during which he congratulated the country for the humanitarian way it has been handling refugees and displaced persons.
The returning CAR refugees were transported in buses to the border and handed to Virginie Baikoua, the Central African Republic Minister of Humanitarian Action, Solidarity and National Reconciliation, who was waiting for them.
She, Nji, and UNHCR officials conducted the returning refugees to a transit camp in Beloko, the Central African Republic.
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