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Saturday, October 13, 2018

English crisis: new sad and moving report by UNHCR

Violent clashes between the military and armed separatists have pushed 26,000 Cameroonians to flee across the border.To help them, funds remain necessary.

When armed men entered her village in northwestern Cameroon, Loveline only had time to gather her four children and flee.

"I could not take any clothes with me.There were gunshots, they killed my uncle and shot my cousin, "said the 39-year-old mother.

As she fled into the bush, gunmen shot her husband. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw them sprinkle their homes with gas and set them on fire.

In another village in Cameroon, Myriam, 22, saw gunmen open fire after storming her village.

"We could see the bullets whistling in front of us"

"We could see the bullets whistling in front of us," says Myriam, who fled into the bush with her family. Back home to try to recover personal belongings, they were greeted by gunshots.

"It's very hard to stay in the bush with the kids," says Myriam. "We are suffering from mosquitoes and hunger. "
Loveline and Miriam are among the 26,000 civilians who fled the areas of southwestern and north-western Cameroon. They found refuge in the Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue and Taraba states of southeastern Nigeria. Women and children make up four-fifths of the refugee population.

Anglophone residents of volatile provinces have long been resentful of the predominantly francophone central government. They claim to have been marginalized by the country's legal and educational systems, most of which are French-language.

This crisis erupted last year after violent demonstrations, some of which called for secession. Since early 2018, about 400 civilians have been killed in a context of escalating attacks between separatist groups and government forces, according to rights groups.

In March, UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, had already warned of the worsening of the plight of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria. Land had been allocated by the government for refugee facilities. However, their initial home capacity is now largely outdated and other sites need to be opened. At the same time, underfunding has hampered the provision of shelter, food, clean water and sanitation facilities by UNHCR and its partners.

"The government has recently allocated other facilities, but we need more resources to make them operational and to accommodate more refugees," explains Mohammad Rafiq Nasry, Head of the UNHCR Office in Ikom.

Despite all these difficulties, many refugees found support in the host communities. The inhabitants of the small border villages share with them what they have - food, a room to sleep or the opportunity to work in cocoa plantations. Some received a piece of land to cultivate. However, for those people who have lost everything, solidarity alone is not enough to start a new life.

"I would like help to start a business to educate my children. "In

order to make a better living, I will have to move," explains Elias Enu, a refugee farmer. He is now facing difficulties to feed his family of 10 people.

Meanwhile, after weeks spent in the bush, Myriam and Loveline arrived in Nigeria with their children and their families, in destitution and fear. They and their relatives were first accommodated by a resident of the village of Ajassor.Together, they took turns working and caring for children, sharing food and patiently enduring the sleepless nights due to promiscuity.

Then, last month, the women boarded a bus to join Adagom refugee camp in Cross River State, Nigeria. Laughing and smiling, they could not hide their joy.

See also: More than 20,000 Anglophone Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria

"I want my kids to go to school," says Loveline, sitting in the front seat of the bus. "I would like help to start a business to educate my children. "

Miriam, too, is looking forward to a happier future. Although one day she hopes to go home to Cameroon, she knows she is stronger with Loveline by her side.

"I'm happy to be here. When we were told that we would be moved to another site, we did not hesitate to pack. We know our burden. Here, it will be lighter. "

Their hope of a stable future depends largely on funding. To help them, you can donate