25, November 2016
The United Nations says the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorists are hindering relief operations meant for tens of thousands of Nigerian refugees living in dire conditions in northern Cameroon. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday that one of its teams had earlier this month been able to visit previously inaccessible border areas of Cameroon’s Far North Region. Leo Dobbs, a UN spokesman, said the team had managed to help pre-register more than 21,000 refugees who had fled acts of terror by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria in a span of two years and had been living for months with mainly impoverished host families.
“It was the first time we have been able to visit these people and there are believed to be many more,” he said. Dobbs said the refugees in northern Cameroon “urgently need assistance.” UN figures show about 27,000 refugees are living outside of camps in areas such as Fotokol, Makary and Mogode districts in the Far North Region. Dobbs said the UNHCR “would like to help and have helped in a little way, but the continuing Boko Haram threat is a hindrance to regular access.”
The UN official said that while some of the refugees in northern Cameroon were staying with poor host families, most were sleeping outdoors in the open, in makeshift shelters or on dirt floors in classrooms. “Others were in abandoned villages whose residents had fled Boko Haram attacks earlier,” he said. The UNHCR is encouraging people to relocate to Minawao camp further from the border, which is home to nearly 60,000 refugees, Dobbs said.
Cameroon has been fighting Boko Haram since 2014. A joint regional force from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon has helped retake swathes of territory from the militants, who come from northeastern Nigeria. However, the terrorist group still poses a security threat to civilians in the four littoral countries surrounding Lake Chad.