Southern Cameroons Crisis: Half a million civilians displaced in skirmishes 0

CASH strapped humanitarian organisations are struggling to cater for about 500 000 civilians displaced after clashes by the military and pro-English separatists in Cameroon. The skirmishes have left scores dead in the Central African country.

Conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions emanates from grievances that the government dominated by French speakers is marginalising English speakers. “Most of the victims are women and children,” said Babar Baloch, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) spokesperson.

He said displaced people faced grave situations in Cameroon or neighbouring Nigeria, where some vulnerable civilians had sought refuge.

“Having fled with very little, they are arriving in impoverished host communities where food supplies are strained and with few facilities for health, education, water and sanitation,” Baloch said. Disputed elections incumbent Paul Biya won in October last year have added to the tensions in the country of some 24 million people.

UNHCR requires US$184 million (R2,66 billion) for its operations in Cameroon and Nigeria. This includes $35,4 million (R511 million) urgently needed for life-saving assistance. Many of the displaced victims in Cameroon are living in overcrowded conditions without proper shelter or health and sanitation support.

The safety of women, children, unaccompanied and separated minors, people with disabilities as well as lactating and pregnant women is of concern. In Nigeria, Cameroonian refugees are hosted in settlements and more than 47 villages along the border.