UN chief Antonio Guterres urged the Nigeria government to create the conditions for millions of displaced people to be able to go back home in safety and dignity.

Guterres also visited a rehabilitation camp for former fighters.
Guterres also visited a rehabilitation camp for former fighters. (AFP)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for the safe and "dignified" return of people displaced by Nigeria's conflict, as local authorities close camps and urge people to go back to their communities.

During a visit to a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri on Tuesday, Guterres praised the local governor's efforts for development in Borno State, the epicentre of the conflict since 2009.

Nigerian authorities are planning to close all camps for displaced people in Borno by 2026 -- but aid agencies are concerned about security and conditions on the ground in some of the communities to which they will return.

"Let's do what we have to do about humanitarian support to these camps," Guterres said.

"But let’s try to find a solution for people, and that solution is to create the conditions, security conditions, development conditions for them to be able to go back home in safety and dignity."

Nigerian officials say they only return people to secure areas, with the goal of encouraging the resumption of farming and weaning people off humanitarian assistance.

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'A policy of reconciliation'

Guterres also visited a rehabilitation camp for former fighters and called for more support for efforts to reintegrate them into society.

Thousands of Boko Haram fighters and their families have surrendered in recent months.

"I was amazed to see today in the centre [that] those that have been terrorists, they want to integrate in the society and contribute to society. And the policy that is in place here is a policy of reconciliation," he said.

Before flying to Nigeria, Guterres went to meet displaced people and refugees in western Niger in the morning.

More than 40,000 people have been killed and around 2.2 million people displaced by over a decade of fighting in the country's northeast between the military and Boko Haram and its offshoot Daesh West Africa Province (ISWAP).

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Source: AFP