Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- In fulfillment of the Nigerian government's commitment t o its national and international humanitarian obligations, the National Commissi o n for Refugees (NCFR) has commenced the distribution of relief materials to Came r oonians taking refuge in Kwande Local government Area of Benue State.
This follows a communal clash between two neighboring communities in southern Ca meroon.
The materials distributed included a truckload of yams, several bags of beans, r ice, soap, sanitary materials, detergents, kerosene, among others.
The Federal Commissioner of the Commission, Hajiya Hadiza Sani Kangiwa, is leadi ng the Nigerian team on the mission.
Speaking at ceremony, the Chairman of host Kwande Local Government, Mr.
Terlumu n Akputu, who assisted the team from the NCFR on the mission, explained that the Cameroonians fled their country due to the crisis arising from a land dispute be t ween the Oyive and Oliti communities in Cameroon.
According to him, the indigent and defenceless minority Oyive community took ref uge in Benue State, which was the only outlet for them, while the Oliti communit y fled Cameroon to the border towns in Cross River State.
The Kwande Local Government Chairman said an enumeration team commissioned by th e Local Government to carry out enumeration of the refugees had taken a record o f more than 3,500 refugees.
But Akputu said local reports by the local chiefs have put the number of refugee s at about 4,500 adding "I want to mention this important fact, as it is an impo r tant element of this assignment".
Akputu said the incident, which started since the third week of March, has led t o a large influx of people from the Oyive community into Kwande Local Government of Benue State as refugees.
He said the United Nations Mission had also been alerted about the situation wit h a visit from the UN mission 11 April to take an on the spot assessment of the s ituation.
After the assessment, Akputu said the UN Mission also promised to come back with food supplies and materials.
Kangiwa noted that refugee situations were development issues that should not be left on the shoulders of the federal government alone but should be borne by al l .
The NCFR Federal Commissioner, who said the Commission had to make huge sacrific es to procure the materials distributed to the refugees, appealed to development agencies present in the country to rally support in order to ease the burden on t he federal government.
She said "Refugee issues are grass cutting issues, they are issues that have to do with health, they are issues that have to do with protection, they are issues that have to do with security and they have to do with the refugees themselves a n d the host communities.
"It should not be borne by one party or one government, we all have a role to pl ay, the Federal government has a role to play, the State Government has a role t o play and the Local Government has a role to play because they are the ones that have these people on their door steps.
" Kangiwa said the relief materials, worth millions of Naira, were still a far cr y from what was needed to cater for the refugees.
She, however, added that the second part of the distribution exercise would be e mbarked upon soon as the Commission would strategise based on its projections to approach the second phase of the exercise.