Bakassi returnees in Cross River have called for permanent resettlement and intervention to improve their welfare.
The leaders of the returnees expressed their wishes in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Akpabuyo, Cross River.
The leaders are Mr Etim Ene, Mr Okon Etim Effiom and Mrs Immaculata Effiom.
The returnees are currently in two camps in Efut Obot Ikot and Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River.
They asked for agricultural inputs to enable them to cultivate land recently acquired for them by UN Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The returnees also asked for permanent possession of the 200 acres of UNHCR farmland at Ikpa Nkanya, Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem in Akpabuyo Local Government Area.
Ene said the host community had agreed to give the land permanently to them if UNHCR could pay N600 million and offer specific assistance to them.
He said that no fewer than 439 widows were currently living in the refugee camps at St. Mark’s Primary/Secondary school at Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem.
He said that they were grateful for efforts by relevant agencies, the host community, Cross River Government and the Federal Government to remedy their plight.
Ene further asked for engine boats and fish processing facilities for the returnees to resettle at Dayspring Island.
They also expressed appreciation to those God had used to “cushion the effect of our difficulties and suffering for the sake of peace between our fatherland, Nigeria, and Cameroon’’.
The refugees said the Cross River Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) had helped “in ensuring that our children are back to school as well as providing basic health care for us in camp’’.
They commended UNHCR for sponsoring the farm project at Ikpa Nkanya and training the youth in different vocations through Rhema Care, a Non-Governmental Organisation.
They said that the Department of International Development and Cooperation assisted in facilitating safe delivery of relief items and training programmes for them.
They also commended the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for its efforts.
In an interview, Mr Vincent Aquah, Director-General, SEMA, said the returnees were camped in Akpabuyo on March 7, 2013.
Aquah said there were 2,940 refugees, comprising 870 men, 780 women and 1,290 children in the two camps at Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem.
He said conditions in the camps at the time they were established were conducive to community life.
Aquah said there were currently 47,180 Internally Displaced Persons in different locations in Cross River with 9,960 men,14,028 women and 23, 245 children.
He said some of the IDPs were victims of community disputes and natural disasters.
He appealed to relevant agencies and the Federal Government to approve a special grant for states with displacement crises.
Aquah also appealed to state governments to set up structures for effective management of displacement in strict adherence to UN rules.
He said that Bakassii returnees needed no “temporary measures but permanent resettlement.
Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River during the campaign for his election promised to build a housing estate for the returnees at Akpabuyo.
Ayade said his administration would build a fabrication academy to train the youth and transform the community.