Cross River State government said it has donated 100 hectares of land and N800 million to Cameroonian refugees taking refuge in the state.

The House of Assembly Speaker, Eteng Williams, disclosed this yesterday during the Humanitarian Development Nexus meeting between the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), state ministries and international agencies.

He said the land was to enable them farm and be self-employed.

While commending the UN agency for constructing inner city roads, schools, temporary residential blocks and other infrastructure for the refugees, he said that the host communities should also be carried along.

His words, “We need you to carry the state government along as you continue with your commendable involvement and support to ease the burdens of the refugees and host communities. But we need you to provide more boreholes for the refugees and host communities. While we commend you for building school blocks, please remember to provide desks for the children.

“On our part, the state government has since extended a further sum of N800 million and 100 hectares of our lands to enable the refugees do some farming.”

Also speaking, the Chairman of the House Committee on Disaster Management and Humanitarian Crises, Hilary Bisong, accused the Federal Government of bias by allowing Cross River to carry the burden of about 51,723 Cameroonian refugees while focusing on the North East.

Bisong said, “Cross River cannot handle the refugees burden alone because of our very low financial resources. We need support and presence of the Federal Government regarding the huge presence of the Cameroonian refugees in our seven Councils. We commend UNHCR for its humanitarian role.”

Head of the UNHCR sub-office in the state, Mr. Mulugeta Zwedie, said that the expectation of the joint meeting was to recommend ways to ease the burden of the mass influx of refugees in the two major camps of Ogoja and Calabar in Cross River as well as the camp in Benue State.

While commending the states for housing the refugees, Zwedie disclosed that Ogoja happened to be the largest refugees settlement in West Africa.

“In two years, we have extended assistance and impacted the refugees as well as the host communities through partnership, infrastructure, education, capacity building, social protection, healthcare etc.

“To avert social challenges, we still have to sustain continual cash and other assistance to the refugees and host communities until they are able to return. We want close collaboration from the Ministry of International Development and Cooperation and others to ease pressures.”

GUARDIAN

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