Bakassi Returnees Plead For Permanent Resettlement

BakassiBakassi returnees in Cross River state have called for permanent resettlement and intervention to improve their welfare.

The leaders of the returnees made the demand in interviews in Akpabuyo, Cross River.

The leaders are Etim Ene, Okon Etim Effiom and 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 input to enable them to cultivate land recently acquired for them by the UN Commission for Refugees.

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.

Mr. 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 they were grateful for efforts by relevant agencies, the host community, Cross River Government and the Federal Government to remedy their plight.

“This will afford us the opportunity to launch into large-scale farming for economic growth”, he said.

Mr. Ene further asked for engine boats and fish processing facilities for the returnees to resettle at Dayspring Island.

“This measure will productively engage the teeming population of our youths; provision of seedlings, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides and provision of water for in-season and out-of-season cultivation of crops.

“We are requesting for medicare and education for our wives and children, continuous feeding, power supply for studying and security.

“Currently the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has rented a 15-acre farmland for us at N250, 000 per year.

“To reduce this cost we solicit for a permanent farm settlement. It will give us great joy to contribute to building of the economy of Cross River. But we cannot achieve this by being dependent on others.

“We are a hardworking people and will excel given the right opportunities. Our needs are modest and meeting these needs will end the suffering of the Bakassi people”, Mr. Ene said.

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 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 for its efforts. (NAN)