120,000 Borno refugees in Niger Republic
• Gov visits them, reassures of their repatriation
Borno State governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, on Saturday in Diffa, the Niger Republic, met with about 120, 000 refugees mostly from local government areas in the northern part of the state.
The refugees comprise men, women and children who fled their communities in 2014 during an attack by Boko Haram insurgents, which led the majority of the displaced refugees to trek long distances to the neighbouring country for safety.
The governor’s visit to Niger, according to his Facebook page, was to contribute to the modalities for safe and dignified repatriation of the refugees for resettlement in communities in Borno State.
It will be recalled that about three weeks ago, Zulum had hosted a high-level meeting in Abuja which had in attendance officials from Nigeria’s federal ministries of Foreign Affairs; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; the National Commission for Refugees, migrant and internally displaced persons and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to discuss repatriation of Borno indigenes from Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
Following the outcome of the meeting, Governor Zulum travelled to Bosso, Garin Wanzam and Tumur, all in Diffa province to meet with the refugees, just as the host governor of Diffa, Isa Lameen, led Zulum during the visits.
Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan, was also part of the trip.
Malam-Fatori, the headquarters of Abadam Local Government Area of Borno State had been a stronghold of Boko Haram insurgents until it was recently regained by the military.
The visit to Malam-Fatori, the first time in more than five years by a civilian, happened the same Saturday the governor entered Diffa province in the Niger Republic.
Zulum, while addressing top officials, expressed his gratitude to the government of Diffa province, the Federal Government of Niger and the host communities in the country for being hospitable to Borno citizens.
He was particularly thankful to his host, Mr Lameen, for his empathy and compassion towards Nigerian refugees from Borno.