Cameroon has deported 100,000 Nigerian refugees in the hope of stemming the spread of the terrorist group Boko Haram, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.
The group said in its new report that the deportation defied a plea by the UN refugee agency to not return anyone to north-eastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram have killed thousands of people, until security and the human rights situation improve considerably.
The HRW report noted that the deported people were likely to face new violence, displacement and destitution.
The group, which investigates allegations of human rights abuses worldwide, says the report is based on interviews with more than 60 refugees.
It added that soldiers tortured, assaulted and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers and denied them access to the UN refugee agency.
The rights group claimed Cameroon deported, often violently, tens of thousands of the refugees since early 2015.
“The Cameroonian military torture and abuse of Nigerian refugees seems to be driven by an arbitrary decision to punish them for Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon and to discourage Nigerians from seeking asylum,” said HRW Associate Refugee Director, Gerry Simpson.
Boko Haram had posed steady threat to communities in north-east Nigeria and launched offensives in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The group’s goal is to enforce strict interpretation of Islamic law, known as sharia.
Since 2009, tens of thousands of people have died in the hands of Sunni fundamentalists in the region.
According to the UN, an estimated 2.7 million people fled their homes due to Boko Haram.