Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria want to return to their homes and livelihoods, a senior UN official said on Wednesday.

“We were able to visit many of the IDPs, clearly the thousands that we found in that camp want to go home, they are impatient to do so,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said after visiting a camp in the town of Banki, near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.

“They would like to come back to their livelihoods, back to access to basic services, and that, I think, was very clear in our visit today.”

She said her visit to the camp, which hosts IDPs as well as Nigerian refugees who have returned from Cameroon, “was to see the collaboration between the state government and the UN, its support the displaced communities and how the partnership is evolving.”

Mohammed said she was pleased to see signs of normalcy in the region but conceded that “it would still take some time for life to return to normal,” according to a UN statement.

The UN official is on a two-week “solidarity visit” to West Africa and the Sahel region to “underscore the UN’s support to countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She started her tour from Nigeria on Monday and held meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and other senior officials in the capital Abuja, the statement said.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, over 3.4 million people have been displaced in the Lake Chad Basin region, including over 2.7 million IDPs in Nigeria, over 684,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and 294,000 refugees in the four countries.

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