UNHCR Mulls Isolation Centre at Nigeria/Cameroon Border to Check Covid-19 Threat

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By Andy Esiet, Calabar 

Determined to check any outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in the Cameroonian refugees’ camps in Ogoja and Cross River State communities in general, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  (UNHCR) is setting up an isolation centre at the Nigeria – Cameroon border.

This centre, according to the Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) Mr. Princewill Ayim in an a chat with some newsmen, is to take care of persons from Cameroon entering Nigeria through the Mfum border in Central Senatorial district of Cross River State and possibly handle cases of persons from neighbouring communities sharing borders with Cameroon.

He said “I had a meeting with the UNHCR and they are designing the plan on how to kick start it and they are very meticulous about it”.

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ayim said the UNHCR is “planning to build an isolation centre there at Mfum and equip the Primary Health Care Centre at the refugees camp. They are being careful as they manage to check the Covid-19 pandemic. For now we do not have any case or incident.

“For those people coming in from the illegal borders, for now we haven’t had any case and people are not entering the reception where we do registration. We have not gotten any new working (new arrival) at the moment. Those in the reception are being managed carefully. We are trying to help the effort of the UNHCR to create more shelters to see how we can properly isolate them from each other.

“For now the camp is 100 percent safe and the Implementation Partners (IP) and we (SEMA) the Camp Coordinators are trying to get a task-force properly by not allowing people break the social distance and ensure they are in order. Everything is okay and on Tuesday we commenced payment of the cash base intervention and we don’t allow them to gather”.

Also speaking, a former lawmaker and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Vice Chairman for Cross River Central, Mr Cletus Obun on Wednesday said, “I just got a report from Bumaji, a border community with Cameroon, that a crisis is brewing up.

“The youth president Benedict Anama and the vigilante group accosted a lady who was coming into Bumaji from Okwa which is the last Boki community to Cameroon at the Obonyi axis in Manyo Division in South West Province in the Republic of Cameroon”. 

He said the region is one of the five affected in the country sharing borders with various Cross River communities like Amana and Sankwala  in Obanliku, Bumaji, Butatong, Bashu, Ogbangante, Danare, Biajua, Orimekpang in Boki;Agbokim, Abia, Ajasor, Etara in Etung, as well as  Ekuri, Ekong Anaku, Old Ndebiji and Oban in Akamkpa.

Obun raised the fears that border communities of Bumaji and others could easily have contacts with their neighbours in Cameroon which already has the virus.

Similarly,  the Chairman of the Cameroon Refugees in the three camps of Adagom 1and 3,  and Okende in Ogoja, Mr. Tako Elias confirmed that for now there is no case of the coronavirus as there is a serious lock down in the camp.

He said “there is no free movement and we don’t have 100 percent access to the market anymore and now it is one person at a time. Regarding Cash Base Intervention (CBI) which payment started yesterday since February, they are paying us for four months and we don’t have new people coming in for now.”

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