News comment by UNHCR’s Spokesperson Babar Baloch – UNHCR steps up support amidst large-scale returns to Northeast Nigeria

Refugees are arriving to difficult conditions in the town of Banki, some 100 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri and just inside Nigeria.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is stepping up its response as large numbers of refugees return from Cameroon to north-eastern Nigeria. More than 12,000 refugees returned in the month of May, with 1,800 returning in just one day early last week. Refugees are arriving to difficult conditions in the town of Banki, some 100 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri and just inside Nigeria.
Though returns have dropped significantly since last week – with only 24 coming back on Monday – we are nonetheless concerned as Banki is already hosting a large population of nearly 45,000 internally displaced people, and is far from ready to receive such large numbers.

The decisions to return are being taken by refugees themselves – people variously cite difficult conditions at Cameroon’s Minawao camp or the need to be back for the farming season. The refugees also organize their own transport.