A total of 322,000 Nigerian refugees are currently in the Republics of Niger, Cameroon and Chad, the Federal Government said on Friday.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, disclosed this while receiving the draft report from the Technical Working Group on the repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon.

The TWG presented the draft tripartite agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Niger Republic and Chad to the minister in Abuja.

Farouq, in a statement issued in Abuja by her media aide, Nneka Anibeze, said the draft, after its ratification, would kick-start preparations for the repatriation of refugees from the Republic of Niger and Chad

The statement read in part, “Receiving the draft at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre Abuja, Farouq noted that a total of 322,000 Nigerian refugees were currently living in neighbouring countries.

“Out of the figures, Niger currently hosts 186,957 refugees, the Republic of Cameroon 118,409 refugees, while 16,634 refugees are in the Republic of Chad.”

The statement quoted Farouq as saying “With the large number of refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the Federal Government has officially initiated talks with the governments of Chad and Niger to sign tripartite agreements similar to the one we have with the Republic of Cameroon.

“I am happy to inform you that we already have a draft copy of the Tripartite Agreement for Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerian Refugees in Niger and Chad Republics.

The minister, who was hitherto the Chairperson of the TWG, officially handed over the position to the new Federal Commissioner, Iman Suleiman-Ibrahim.

In her address, Ibrahim thanked the minister for the confidence reposed in her and sought the cooperation of all partners to bring back the refugees in safety and dignity.