Some 26,000 refugees who have fled insecurity in the Central African Republic and are now living in Cameroon will soon receive much-needed help from several United Nations agencies joining forces to alleviate their plight.
On Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with other UN agencies, will launch a relief operation to aid the refugees who are scattered along the eastern border of Cameroon and living in very precarious conditions.
“The refugees, particularly women and children, are in a vulnerable condition with some 15 to 18 per cent of infants malnourished and suffering a rate of infant mortality six to seven times higher than the emergency threshold in some areas,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis said at a press briefing in Geneva.
Mainly Mbororo nomadic cattle herders, the refugees have arrived in Cameroon in several waves since 2005 after fleeing their villages, where they had been targeted by rebel groups and bandits who steal cattle and kidnap women and children for ransom. The last recorded arrivals were in February this year.
Ms. Pagonis warned that there are a number of logistical challenges in getting aid to the refugees, who are living in more than 50 sites spread over thousands of miles. “The imminent start of the rainy season may hamper the delivery of the relief supplies, and security conditions caused by banditry also need to be taken into account.”
The relief operation, which involves the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), will provide 200 tons of basic supplies such as blankets, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, hygiene supplies and medicines to the refugees.
In addition, WFP is positioning nearly 3,000 tons of food in its warehouses to supply the basic food needs of the refugees for six months, while UNICEF is supplying nutritional needs for children suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition. In addition, UNFPA will be helping women and young girls with problems related to reproductive health and maternal mortality.