Over 25 000 Cameroonian Refugees Flee Clashes

Refugees (File photo)

Violent clashes between military and armed separatists drive 26,000 Cameroonians over the border, where funding is still needed to provide assistance.

This crisis erupted last year after protests turned violent, with some calling for secession. So far this year, some 400 civilians have been killed in escalating attacks between separatist groups and government forces, according to rights groups.

In March, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned that the plight of the refugees in Nigeria was becoming increasingly desperate.

While the government has given land for refugee settlements, it is now fully occupied and more will be developed. At the same time, the provision of shelter, food, water and sanitation by UNHCR and its partners has been constrained by severe under-funding.

“The government recently provided us with other settlements but we need more resources in order to establish the settlements and receive further refugees,” says the head of UNHCR’s field office in Ikom, Mohammad Rafiq Nasry.

As the response struggles, many refugees have found support within host communities. The inhabitants of small border villages share what they have with them – food, a room to sleep or work in the cocoa plantations. Some received a piece of land to cultivate. However, solidarity alone is not enough for people who have lost everything to re-start their lives.

Anglophone residents of the country’s restive provinces have long had grievances against the largely Francophone central government. They say the country’s French-dominated legal and educational systems have left them on the margins.