Sunday, June 23, 2024

Cameroon: Cameroon Overwhelmed With Refugees

Yaounde, Cameroon — Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, humanitarian agencies are distributing aid to the nearly 500,000 refugees who live in Cameroon. The U.N. refugee agency says another 400 Nigerians arrive every month in the country, which in addition to the refugees houses a million internally displaced persons. Despite the staggering numbers, UNHCR says it has received only 30% of the funds needed to help the refugees.

According to UNHCR, the number of refugees in Cameroon has increased to 479,000, up slightly from 2022.

Humanitarian agencies and aid groups have been distributing food aid and planting seeds for the refugees ahead of World Refugee Day on Tuesday.

About three-fourths of the refugees in Cameroon are from the Central African Republic, a country that has been rocked by violence since 2013, when a rebel group ousted then-President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisals.

Most of the other refugees in Cameroon are Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram militant attacks, with the majority living in the Minawao camp in northern Cameroon.

The refugees in Minawao elected Isaac Luka as their spokesperson. Luka fled Nigeria’s Borno state in June 2014 after Boko Haram extremists killed more than 20 people in his village.

Luka said it has not been easy for the United Nations and donor agencies to provide for the increasing number of refugees in Minawao.

“At first, UNHCR gave some subvention to take care of the health of the refugees,” he said. “The European Union gives us some money also to complete the unavailable medication in the hospital. Education is free in the camp, but 200 children in a classroom is not easy. Each refugee will have a card that you will go to any hospital in the country without paying.”

Cameroon’s government says Minawao lies in an area where desertification is prevalent and water, food and natural resources are scarce.