from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – ABOUT 8 000 Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria over the past fortnight, bringing the total Cameroonian refugee population in the neighbouring country to nearly 60 000 people.
The latest exodus is attributed to the general elections held under a tense atmosphere last weekend.
Refugees, mostly from the Northwest and Southwest regions, reported fleeing violence and some even arrived across the border with gunshot wounds.
According to new arrivals, most come from areas near the border and have trekked across savannah and forests to reach Nigeria.
Refugees who recently arrived are sheltered in public schools and health facilities or with local families.
The 51 000 registered refugees that arrived prior to this latest influx are being hosted across some 87 local communities in the states of Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Cross River and Taraba.
In addition, there are four settlements where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and humanitarian partners are providing protection, food, livelihood, shelter and healthcare.
UNHCR is working closely with the Nigerian authorities to ensure that refugees are able to access shelter and basic services.
“Together we are supporting both refugees and their hosts given pressing humanitarian needs and to ensure there is no strain on local communities given their modest resources,” said UNHCR’s deputy representative in Nigeria, Roger Hollo.
He said refugees also need support to become self-reliant.
“With access to education, health services and labour markets, they can take care of their families and give back to the local communities hosting them.”
Separatists in the minority English-speaking northwestern and southwestern Cameroon were opposed to the holding of elections.
They are agitating for self-rule from the government dominated by French speakers.
– CAJ News