“Providing pastoral care for over 36,000 Refugees is not an easy task.”
During the visit of a delegation of Nigerian Bishops to their countrymen fleeing the violence of Boko Haram, Bishop Bruno Ateba of Maroua, Cameroon, on March 5, made this statement, reported Fides.
“It is a big challenge for our diocese,” the African bishop stated. “This is why we brought the matter to the attention of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroun, who in turn notified the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria about the plight of the Nigerian Refugees here in our diocese.”
During the last Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Nigeria, it was decided there would be this visit by the delegation. Its purpose was to ascertain the condition of the Nigerian refugees welcomed in the camps in Minawao, managed by UNHCR.
The Nigerian delegation included Mgr. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, Bishop of Umuahia and President of the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN); Msgr. Oliver Dashe Doeme, Bishop of Maiduguri; Mgr. Stephen Dami Mamza, Bishop of Yola; Fr. Evaristus Bassey, Secretary of CCFN, and Fr. Chris Nanyanwu, Director of Social Communications of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN).
“I am happy that I am part of this delegation,” Msgr. Doeme said, “It is a wonderful show of solidarity. Our presence is a moral boost for them and a reassurance that they are not abandoned.”
Facilitated by geographical proximity and similar language and culture shared by their respective populations, the Diocese of Maroua, in northern Cameroon, and Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria, have long ties of closeness and cooperation.
Because of Boko Haram’s ongoing violence, this bond has been temporarily cut off from the closure of the border.