The Director General of Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Princewill Ayim, has disclosed that the state was hosting 37,659 Cameroonian refugees in different camps.
Ayim, who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Calabar, said that the refugees were domiciled in various locations in the state, with three major settlements in Ogoja local government area.
He said that the refugees have enjoyed tremendous support from the host communities due to the sensitisation and advocacy carried out by the agency.
According to him, some government facilities in the host communities like the primary and secondary schools, primary healthcare centres, borehole among others, were been over stretched due to the increasing number of the refugees.
“We have been carrying advocacy talks with the refugees, telling them on how to cooperate with members of the host communities and so far, the relationship has been wonderful.
“The support we get from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is wonderful because they have trained professionals who are incharge of all critical aspect in the camps.
“As a government, our duty is to check these partners who deliver the services to the refugees.
“The number of refugees in Cross River as we speak is 37,659. The challenge we have is that government facilities outside the camps are over stretched now due to the increasing population.
“We are appealing for good spirited individuals, Federal Government and corporate organisations to come to our aid and assist us in providing some of these facilities,” he said.
The DG explained that the state government has also created relevant ministries who are incharge of providing psychosocial support and other basic activities to the refugees.
On security, he said that personnel from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in collaboration with members of the host communities were working closely to ensure safety of the refugees.
“We do alot of sensitisation campaign and enlightenment programmes at the camps. We try as much as possible to let them know that been a refugees does not exempt you from arrest and prosecution if you are caught in any criminal or illegal act.
“We are also working on having the refugees to be insured by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees so that they can also benefit from the Ayadecare health insurance policy in the state,” he said.