By Bayram Altug
GENEVA (AA) – Over the last year some 30,000 Cameroonians have sought refuge from violence by fleeing to their larger northwestern neighbor Nigeria, a UN refugee agency spokesman said on Friday.
“In the last two weeks 600 refugees arrived in Nigeria. Since September 2017, the number of Cameroonians fleeing clashes and violence in their country taking refuge in Nigeria reached almost 30,000,” Babar Baloch, UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman, told reporters at the UN office in Geneva.
Fourth-fifths of the refugees are women and children and will face serious challenges if they fail to get international aid, he added.
Cameroonians have taken refuge in Nigeria due to ongoing clashes between separatists and security forces in the southwest and northwest of the country.
"Around 400 civilians lost their lives this year due to clashes between separatists and security forces,” Baloch said.
He said the asylum-seekers reported that they lack access to clean water, while essential relief items such as clothing, blankets, and plastic sheeting are also available to fewer than one-fourth of them.
Baloch also called for an urgent political solution to the situation in Cameroon so that the refugees can “safely and voluntarily” return to their homes.
The Central African country has been marred by protests for over a year, with residents in English-speaking regions saying they have been marginalized for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.
The protesters are calling for a return to federalism or independence for English-speaking Cameroon.