Cameroon has “forcefully” sent over 100,000 Nigerian refugees back home in an attempt to stem the spread of terrorist group Boko Haram, Human Rights Watch (HWR) said in a report released on Wednesday, September 27, 2017.
It is understood that the deportations defied the UN refugee agency’s plea not to return anyone to northeast Nigeria – where Boko Haram has continued to kill thousands of people – until security and human rights situation has improved considerably.
In its new report, the HRW said that the deported people were likely to face new violence, displacement and destitution.
The group, which investigates allegations of human rights abuses worldwide, also said the report is based on interviews with more than 60 refugees.
It added that soldiers tortured, assaulted and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers and denied them access to the UN refugee agency.
The 55-page report, “‘They Forced Us Onto Trucks Like Animals’: Cameroon’s Mass Forced Return and Abuse of Nigerian Refugees,” documents that since early 2015, Cameroonian soldiers have tortured, assaulted, and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers in remote border areas.
It also claimed that they denied them access to the UN refugee agency, and summarily deported, often violently, tens of thousands to Nigeria.
It also documents violence, poor conditions, and unlawful movement restrictions in Cameroon’s only official camp for Nigerian refugees, as well as conditions recent returnees face in Nigeria.
“The Cameroonian military torture and abuse of Nigerian refugees seems to be driven by an arbitrary decision to punish them for Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon and to discourage Nigerians from seeking asylum,” said HRW Associate Refugee Director, Gerry Simpson.
“Cameroon should heed the UN’s call on all countries to protect refugees fleeing the carnage in northeast Nigeria, not return them there.”