Cameroon: some 20,000 more CAR refugees in three weeks

Briefing Notes, 21 February 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Dan McNorton to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 21 February 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The number of refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) has sharply increased this month in Cameroon, as violence continues to rip through the country.

Since the beginning of February a total of 19,565 refugees from CAR have crossed into Cameroon to escape violence perpetrated by the former Seleka and anti-Balaka militiamen in Bangui and other towns in north-western CAR. This is up from 4,764 CAR refugees in the first week of the month.

The latest influx brings to 35,142 the total number of CAR refugees who have fled to Cameroon since March 2013, when the Seleka rebels came to power in CAR amid reports of gross human rights violations.

Our colleagues in Garoua Boulay in eastern Cameroon witnessed the arrival on 16 February of 100 trucks carrying civilians from CAR. Additionally, some 3,000 people have been reported to have crossed the border into the town of Yokadouma in the south-east of Cameroon. They are coming from Bangui and mainly from localities such as Bossemptele, Bouar, Baboua, Beloko, Carnot, Boaro, Gambala, Berberati and Nola in the west of CAR.

We started on Monday the registration of those new arrivals in Garoua Boulay, and our colleagues are in Yokadouma to verify new arrivals.

Moreover, the growing number of new arrivals and their need for food and other basic necessities (cooking oil, rice, cassava, fish, beef, vegetables, sugar, salt, soap, fuel and other items) have resulted in higher prices and shortage of goods on the local market. Local residents are also feeling the pinch with rent increases.

New arrivals from CAR are living in appalling conditions. Most of them lack food and shelter. Generous host communities have taken in many people, but they cannot share their homes and resources with everyone.

We began to move refugees from Garoua Boulay to the new site at Mborguene, which can host up to 10,000 people.

Meanwhile, we are also looking at another site in Lolo, 46 kilometers from the border in the eastern region, which can take up to 15,000 refugees.

In separate development, 7,921 third-country nationals (TCN) arrived in Cameroon from CAR, and are mainly Chadian, Malian, Mauritanian, and Nigeriens. They are being repatriated by their embassies to their country of origin. As of today, 2,774 TCN have been repatriated, including 2,702 Chadians, 49 Malians, 1 Mauritanian and 22 Nigeriens.

Before the current crisis, Cameroon was hosting 92,000 refugees from CAR; the first started to arrive in 2006 to escape from rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Cameroon, Djerassem Mbaiorem on mobile +237 90 16 06 08
  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

Central African Republic: Urgent Appeal

You can help save the lives of thousands of refugees

Donate to this crisis

Young and Struggling with Malnutrition: Child Refugees in Cameroon

Growing numbers of refugees from the Central African Republic have been arriving in Cameroon in a dreadful physical condition after spending weeks or months hiding in the bush, struggling to find food and water, and sleeping out in the open, unable to return to the homes they were forced to flee from. The most vulnerable of these refugees are the children, especially those aged under five years. It is heart-breaking to see these rail thin children, clearly in need of sustenance after living on roots and leaves. An estimated 40 per cent of children arrive suffering from malnutrition and for some the journey proves too much, but UNHCR has been helping to save lives in eastern Cameroon. With Médecins Sans Frontières, the refugee agency supports a nutrition centre in Batouri. MSF sends children there from its overwhelmed health clinic in the border town of Gbiti, where some 20,000 of the 80,000 Central African refugees in Cameroon have arrived. The partners are expanding the capacity of the centre, which treats about 100 children. More arrive daily and UNHCR has set up tents to provide shelter for the children and their mothers. Photographer Frederic Noy last week visited Gbiti and Batouri and captured the following powerful images.

Young and Struggling with Malnutrition: Child Refugees in Cameroon

A Central African Refugee's Reunion With Her Sons Brings Joy and Sorrow

The violence and conflict in the Central African Republic has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since mid-December. Many have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, including 80,000 in Cameroon. During the trauma and confusion of flight, families often become separated. They face many dangers on the way to safety, and their journey can take many weeks. Ramatou, a 45-year-old mother of 11 children, was separated from three of her sons and her husband when militiamen attacked her village in January. She ran in one direction with eight children and eventually made it to Cameroon with the help of African Union peace-keepers. Her husband and three sons ran in a different direction and endured many ordeals in the bush, becoming separated again. Earlier this month, Ramatou was reunited in Cameroon's Mbile Refugee Camp with the two youngest boys. She was overjoyed, but dismayed that they were on their own. She still hopes for her husband and eldest son to turn up. Photographer Fred Noy was there at the emotional reunion.

A Central African Refugee's Reunion With Her Sons Brings Joy and Sorrow

Batalimo to Batanga and Beyond: Congolese Return Home from CAR

Over the past month, almost 6,300 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have left the Batalimo camp in the troubled Central African Republic and returned voluntarily to their homes in Equateur province. Their decision to go back is a further sign of the gravity of the situation in Central African Republic, where escalated violence since December has left hundreds of thousands internally displaced and forced almost 350,000 to flee to neighbouring countries. The refugees at Batalimo were among some 20,000 Congolese who had fled to the Central African Republic to escape inter-ethnic conflict back home. The return operation from Batalimo had been postponed several times for security and logistical reasons, but on April 10 the first convoy headed across the Oubangui River. The last arrived in the DRC on May 10. The UN refugee agency organized transportation of the refugees from Batalimo to the Central African Republic riverside town of Zinga, where they boarded boats for the crossing to Batanga or Libenge in Equateur province. In Batanga, the returnees were registered, provided with documentation and given a cash grant to help them reintegrate. They were then transported to their villages, where they will be monitored. Photographer Leonora Baumann followed one group back to the DRC.

Batalimo to Batanga and Beyond: Congolese Return Home from CAR

Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African RefugeesPlay video

Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African Refugees

The UN refugee agency and its partners appealed for more donor support to cope with the continuing outflow and deteriorating condition of refugees from the Central African Republic.
Cameroon: A Young Victim of ViolencePlay video

Cameroon: A Young Victim of Violence

Militia attacks on civilians in Central African Republic have left many people, including children, dead or badly injured. Six-year-old Ibrahim is recovering from one such attack, lucky to be alive.
Cameroon:  Malnourished ChildrenPlay video

Cameroon: Malnourished Children

Some 80,000 people from Central African Republic have fled to Cameroon this year, many of them after walking for weeks or months through the bush with almost no food and water. Many of the children have severe malnutrition. UNHCR and its partners are rushing to help them.