Cameroon repatriating 12,000 Nigerian refugees

Families from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

ABUJA (Reuters) - About 12,000 Nigerians are being repatriated over the next three to four days after seeking refuge in Cameroon from attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Nigeria's state emergency agency said said on Wednesday. A National Emergency Management Agency spokesman said the returnees would be accomodated mainly in the town of Mubi in Adamawa state, close to the border. "We already cleared about 1,150 people but border officers projected that 12,000 people would be arriving," spokesman Manzo Ezekiel said. Cameroonian authorities expelled about 2,800 Nigerians over the weekend following a series of suicide bomb attacks in July. The six-year-old insurgency waged by Boko Haram to establish an Islamist state in the northeast of Nigeria has displaced around 1.5 million people internally and forced thousands to flee into neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad. A multi-national joint taskforce combining 8,700 troops from Nigeria and its neighbours is being set up in Chad's capital N'Djamena to combat the militants. A similar-sized repatriation occurred in May from the Lake Chad islands in Niger when Nigerien authorities told residents, many of them Nigerians, to evacuate before military operations. About 25,000 people were forced to leave, sometimes brutally. Some died en route due to inadequate evacuation assistance. (Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Angus MacSwan)