Windstorm sacks 2,000 Bakassi returnees from refugee camp


bakassi_peninsulaNo fewer than 2,000 people have been displaced by a windstorm, which ravaged a school block serving as refugee camp for Bakassi returnees in Cross River State.

The building, located in St Mark’s Primary School, Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem in Akpabuyo Local Government Area, was used as a temporary camp since March 7 by the returnees.

Mr David Akate, Assistant Director (Information), Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said the storm blew off a four-classroom block and exposed the more than 2,000 returnees to inclement weather.

Akate said: “The rains that accompanied the storm aggravated their problems as the returnees, including women and children were inundated.

“Mattresses, sleeping mats, clothes and other personal belonging were soaked making life unbearable for the people.

“Also pathetic was the destruction of foodstuffs such as garri, rice, beans, salt and other perishable items, subjecting the returnees to an unprecedented trauma.”

The Camp Coordinator, Mr Okon Ene, described the situation as pathetic.

“We had to gather the children and women to some safer places, while the men had to work throughout the night trying to salvage their property,’’ he said.

Assessing the damage, the Director-General, SEMA, Mr Vincent Aquah, said that frantic arrangements were being made to relocate the returnees to a safer area.

He said that some other parts of the state were affected by the windstorm.

“In Akpabuyo, 73 houses were affected, 497 houses were destroyed at Ogoja, 403 in Boki, 33 in Obudu, and 23 in Etung.

“More than 12,000 people were in all displaced across the state,” he said.

He said that the 2,000 people had on March 7 fled to Ikot Eyo Edem in Akpabuyo, a Nigeria–Cameroon border community, following harassment by the government of Cameroon.

The authorities had allegedly forced them out of their ancestral home, Efut Obot Ikot, in the ceded Bakassi Peninsula.


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