Nigerian refugees try to rebuild lives in Cameroon

With their birth certificates and identification papers lost in Nigeria, refugees struggle to build new life in Cameroon

Nigerian refugees try to rebuild lives in Cameroon

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Many Nigerian refugees living in their southern neighbor Cameroon are facing difficulties in rebuilding their lives as they lack official identification documents.

Ahmad is a Nigerian refugee in the Minawao camp, north Cameroon on the border with Nigeria. Cameroonian authorities rejected his request to get married because he has no birth certificate and so cannot prove his identity.

Originally from Borno State in Nigeria, Ahmad told Anadolu Agency that he hurriedly left his home after a Boko Haram attack.

"I was not able to take anything with me," he said. "My house was burned."

Despite the intermediation of a lawyer working on behalf of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there is still no solution to Ahmad's problem.

According to the UNHCR, Minawao camp hosts around 40,000 Nigerian refugees with 96 percent coming from Borno State and two percent from Adamawa State, the two main Boko Haram strongholds in Nigeria.

Refugees in Cameroon, unlike in other countries, have the right to work – so long as they prove their skills to employers.

Those with diplomas must present these qualifications or certified copies.

"I am a lawyer. I worked for six years in a law firm in Nigeria but I cannot prove my professional experience," Ishaku, a Nigerian living in the Minawao camp told Anadolu Agency.

"When we fled death, we did not think to take our birth certificates or diplomas. We first thought of taking clothes and money to survive. I would like to start working in Cameroon, but I cannot because I do not know where my qualifications are," he added.

Asked about solutions for refugees who find themselves without identification papers or diplomas, a local UNHCR official told Anadolu Agency that "538 extracts of birth certificates have already been issued to children born in Minawao to prevent statelessness."

The camp's manager also told Anadolu Agency that UNHCR provides free legal assistance to refugees.

Several countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger and Chad, are involved in a military operation against Boko Haram.

For Minawao refugees, victory will mean the end of Boko Haram and a return to normal life.

Last Mod: 09 Temmuz 2015, 16:03
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