Cablegate: Nigeria: Unhcr Country Rep Gives Overview

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: POLOFF met with Eusebe Hounsokou, UNHCR
Country Representative to Nigeria, on January 7 and discussed
concerns about potential violent uprising of Nigerians living
on the Bakassi Peninsula, the possible repatriation of
Nigerian refugees from Cameroon to their homes in Taraba
State, Nigeria, and UNHCR funding of child trafficking
programs in Nigeria. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) Hounsokou visited the Bakassi region in December
2002, shortly after the ICJ ruling in favor of the Government
of Cameroon (GRC). While there, he met members of the
Bakassi Liberation Front (BLF) who told him they are willing
to fight to protect their perceived rights. Since then,
Hounsokou and UNHCR offices in Nigeria and Cameroon have been
monitoring developments in the Bakassi Peninsula and the
Anglophone region of Cameroon. In previous discussions with
POLOFF, Hounsokou expressed concern for Nigerian nationals
living in Bakassi and for Anglophone Cameroonians in general.
Hounsokou thinks that Bakassis may be arming themselves like
the ethnic groups in the Niger Delta. Although he is unable
to substantiate his concerns, he believes it would be easy
for Bakassi fishermen to smuggle arms into the region in
their fishing boats.

3. (SBU) UNHCR offices in Yaounde reported to UNHCR Lagos in
October 2003 that a splinter group from Southern Cameroon's
National Council (SCNC) had declared its independence and
claimed that its youths were armed. Should Nigeria cede the
Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, Hounsokou believes the
Bakassis may begin an armed struggle against the GRC, which
would create a refugee crisis. He identified the SCNC as a
"natural ally" of the Bakassis and feels that a conflict in
the Bakassi Peninsula may inflame tensions in Anglophone


4. (SBU) UNHCR Nigeria estimates that approximately 17,000
Nigerian refugees live in neighboring Cameroon. Mostly
ethnic Fulani herders, they fled Benue and Taraba States
following ethno-religious clashes between the Tiv and Jukun
peoples in January 2002. Hounsokou will coordinate a field
assessment in Taraba State in early February to determine if
conditions will enable the refugees to return to their home
villages. He has asked representatives from the US, UK,
German, and Canadian Missions to accompany him along with
representatives from ICRC, FAO, and UNICEF. (UNHCR will
likely look for international support and possible donor
partners to help organize repatriation.)


5. (U) Hounsokou is expecting a US $2 million budget to fund
a country program on Human Security. ECOWAS and the UNHCR
will jointly seek funding for the project. UNHCR Nigeria has
submitted a project proposal to its headquarters and has tied
in child trafficking. Hounsokou believes child trafficking
is a post conflict problem within the region; he wants to
identify programs that target source and destination
communities to alleviate this growing trend. He expressed
interest in USG efforts in combating trafficking in Nigeria,
regionally and domestically, and may solicit assistance from
the Mission to identify programs.

6. (U) The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is scheduled to
visit Nigeria in April.

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