Thousands of Cameroonians seek refuge in Nigeria

From EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of Cameroonians from English-speaking regions have fled to Nigeria amid a crackdown against critics of the marginalisation by the largely Anglophone government.
This represents a reversal of roles as in recent years, Nigerians have been fleeing to Cameroon in fear of the Boko Haram insurgents.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has disclosed registering 2 000 Cameroonian people so far seeking safety in Nigeria.
An additional 3 000 are awaiting registration, while more people might be trapped in forests on the Cameroonian side as they attempt to cross the border.
UNHCR is working with the Nigerian government and other UN agencies on a contingency plan, readying humanitarian assistance for up to 40 000 Cameroonians anticipated to cross into Nigeria.
“Our fear, however, is that 40 000 might actually be a conservative figure in a situation where the conflict might continue,” said UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch.
UNHCR and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) are distributing relief items in Nigeria’s Cross River State where most Cameroonians have sought refuge.
Cameroon and Nigeria are already grappling with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with 2,5 million people displaced by Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad region.
An estimated 100 000 others have been killed.
The current influx of Cameroonian seeking refuge in Nigeria poses additional challenges to the international community and burden to an already stretched assistance, Baloch said.
Rights groups reported forces loyal to President Paul Biya’s government killed at least 17 civilians during protests for the independence of Englsh-speaking regions of the Central African country.
CAJ News

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