from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA – THE number of Cameroonians seeking refuge in neighbouring Nigeria has leaped above 11 000 since a crackdown by government forces against pro-independent movement activists in Southern Cameroon.
Cameroonian President Paul Biya’s government initiated the onslaught in October after the unilateral declaration of independence by English-speaking regions.
They allege marginalisation by the government that is dominated by French speakers.
Government accuses activists of killing more than ten security personnel.
In the ensuing clashes, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it had with its main Nigerian government counterpart, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) biometrically registered 11 651 asylum seekers in Benue, Cross River, and Taraba States.
The cash-strapped humanitarian agencies expressed concern at the plight of thousands of vulnerable Cameroonian children who have no means to survive or education opportunities on arrival in Nigeria.
Unaccompanied and separated minors are among children that make up more than half of asylum seekers registered so far.
“More people are yet to be registered. The number is likely to increase,” said Elizabeth Mpimbaza, UNHCR local spokesperson.
She said UNHCR and partners were working together to assist the children but limited resources and lack of access to some receiving communities
remained key functional challenges impacting the capacity to respond adequately.
It is feared 40 000 Cameroonians will eventually flee to Nigeria.
Ironically thousands of Nigerians fled to Cameroon following the Boko Haram terror attacks.
– APA / CAJ News