Cameroon in a fix as refugees troop in

The East African - - OUTLOOK - By NDI NDI EUGENE Africa Re­view

AS TEN­SIONS grow in the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic, Sal­i­mane Ou­marou has been busy. He has made many rounds in his Kilo­me­tre Five Hausa quar­ter in Cameroon, sen­si­tis­ing Mus­lims and Chris­tians on the need for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence.

The 36-year-old fa­ther of three is among 24,000 CAR refugees liv­ing at the Gado Badzere refugee camp in east­ern Cameroon. He still re­calls how as­sailants at­tacked his vil­lage in 2014, de­stroyed their houses and killed vil­lagers, forc­ing them to flee. While the camp of­fers so­lace, life has not been easy.

“We do not have enough to eat. Food ra­tions and med­i­cal sup­plies have been cur­tailed and we do not have in­come-gen­er­at­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to sup­ple­ment the lit­tle we re­ceive,” said Ou­marou.

Tre­sor Mbo Mba­line who was or­phaned when rebels at­tacked their home in Ban­gui said be­sides the hunger, “it is dif­fi­cult to find a job in the camp.”

The refugees are not al­lowed to ven­ture out­side the camp in search of jobs.

Equally, ac­cess to ba­sic so­cial ser­vices such as ed­u­ca­tion, pro­tec­tion, water, san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene is a chal­lenge.

The World Food Pro­gramme said that food ra­tions were slashed by half a year ago “due to re­source con­straints.”

The United Na­tions says fi­nan­cial re­sources to sup­port the needs on the ground are “fast de­creas­ing,” as more refugees ar­rive from the volatile CAR. The to­tal number of refugees in the coun­try is above 300,000.

The UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says about 70 per cent of this number are set­tled among the com­mu­ni­ties. The rest live in one of seven refugee sites.


Cameroon has also been grap­pling with more than 191,000 in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons, the re­sult of a spillover from the sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence in CAR and the Boko Haram terrorist group in­sur­gency.

Cameroon’s east­ern re­gion bor­ders the CAR. It has suf­fered a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis since 2014 when refugees be­gan to troop in. It is one of the poor­est of the coun­try’s 10 ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gions.

Cameroon’s Min­is­ter of Ter­ri­to­rial Ad­min­is­tra­tion and De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion, Rene Em­manuel Sadi said Yaounde needs the sup­port of de­vel­op­ment part­ners and donors to meet the grow­ing needs of the refugees and the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the UNHCR, only 21 per cent ($20.2 mil­lion) of the re­quested $94.2 mil­lion fund­ing for Cameroon had been re­ceived as of Au­gust this year.

“It is an op­er­a­tion that is highly un­der­funded,” said the res­i­dent co-or­di­na­tor of the UN sys­tems in Cameroon, Al­le­gra Baioc­chi.

“The refugees are wor­ried be­cause they see that as­sis­tance has been re­duc­ing, but there is not much we can do with 20 per cent fund­ing.”

The Swiss am­bas­sador to Cameroon Pi­etro Lazzeri de­scribed the refugee sit­u­a­tion in cameroon as be­ing “very com­plex.”

“We will eval­u­ate the sit­u­a­tion [of CAR refugees in Cameroon] and see what can be done,” he said.

Pic­ture: Ndi Ndi Eugene

Chil­dren in Cameroon. a crowded class­room at the Gado refugee camp in

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