The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned against the return of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes in many parts of the North-east as the situation is not yet conducive for their return.
The UNHCR Regional Representative for West Africa, Liz Kpam Ahua, gave the warning yesterday at the opening of the Regional Protection Dialogue on the Lake Chad Basin jointly organised by the Ministry of Interior and UNHCR.
She said apart from persistent threats from the Boko Haram militants, the presence of mines and unexploded improvised devices as well as the absence of basic services posed acute humanitarian and protection risks to the people.
While acknowledging the success recorded so far by the military in regaining areas previously occupied by the militants as well as reducing their capacity for military engagement, the UNHCR representative expressed concern that they still had capacity to harass, maim and kill defenceless civilians.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Bassey Akpanyung, who said the IDPs had special protection concerns, disclosed that the federal government was in the process of re-establishing civil authority in the liberated areas. He also assured that the federal government would support safe, dignified and voluntary return of the IDPs and refugees to their previous abodes as soon as possible.
The dialogue which will end Wednesday is targeted at proffering solutions to the protection risks in the Lake Chad Basin as well as responding to the most urgent needs of the affected populations.