The United Nations relief wing today called for greater international assistance so that it can help more than 45,000 Central African refugees living in eastern Cameroon after fleeing violence and insecurity in their neighbouring homeland.
Unless more assistance is provided, local and national authorities in Cameroon may not be able to keep up with the needs of the rising number of refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a media statement.
Violence in the CAR, especially in the northwest and northeast of the impoverished country, has led many residents to flee to Cameroon or Chad in recent years, but the numbers entering Cameroon have picked up pace this year.
The Cameroon office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registered some 23,000 Central Africans between May and October and expects another 7,000 to 10,000 ethnic Mbororos, a nomadic people, to also seek refuge in the near future.
“These new arrivals would seriously tax the host country’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance and would also increase the risk of tension, because natural resources in the area, especially water, are running low and will soon be insufficient to sustain both the host populations and the displaced,” OCHA said in its statement.
The situation is particularly grim in the CAR as well: although the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northeast has fallen recently, the numbers in the northwest keep rising because of ongoing kidnappings and other crimes and also continued clashes between the national army and rebels.
Local media reported that on Monday rebels killed one Government soldier and injured four others during an attack close to the border with Cameroon. Nomadic cattle farmers have started avoiding their usual trails and begun searching for safer routes near cities and towns.
In total, more than 300,000 Central Africans, or about 7 per cent of the national population, are either internally displaced across the north or live as refugees in other countries.