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Crisis as Cameroonian refugees swell Cross River communities

The Nation Newspaper (Nigeria) | There is a growing humanitarian crisis brewing at the Nigerian border communities in Cross River State, due to the political tension in Cameroon, Nicholas Kalu, who visited the communities reports.

THE land border in Mfum on the Nigerian axis and Ekok on the Cameroonian axis, that connects to Etung local government area in the central part of Cross River State is about six hours from Calabar, the state capital.

The rather sleepy town of Mfum has in the last few months been besieged by thousands of Cameroonians, especially those from the English speaking part of the country, who alleged persecution by their government for their political stance. They have swarmed the Cross River communities along the border in search of refuge.

Brewing humanitarian crisis

At the moment about 7,000 refugees have swelled the various communities of Utanga and Amana in Obanliku local government area, Danare in Boki local government area, and Ajassor and Agbokim in Etung local government area.

The situation has also come with attendant problems as facilities in the various communities have been overstretched.

There is no stopping the influx of refugees as they keep flocking in on a daily basis and there are fears that this could trigger humanitarian crisis if not quickly addressed. However, the communities have mobilized their resources to cater for the needs of the people.

At the moment the people are facing socio-economic challenges as they lack the basic needs such as foods, shelter and other necessities of life. Hundreds of the refuges sleep in the open and are exposed to the vagaries of the weather.

The challenges posed by the refugees are also telling on indigenes of the area who try to cope with their unexpected visitors. Mostly affected are women and children who constitute a greater number of the refugees. Many of the women, who are pregnant lack access to medical attention as health facilities in the communities, most of which are barely functional, cannot adequately cater for them. Also they lack the financial capacity to seek the kind of medical attention they require. This is because many of them fled their country over fear of government repression due to the agitation by the English part of the country for a separate country.

Most households in the communities are today accommodating more than 20 refugees thereby stretching their resources to the limit.

As a result of the influx, the open defecation free-status recently attained by a local government like Obanliku is being threatened, as the available toilet facilities can no longer contain the population of the refuges thus creating an environment for epidemic such as cholera.

Being ones brother’s keeper

Though the community leaders have expressed delight for being able to provide for the refugees, they complain that their facilities have been over stretched and would require immediate assistance from relevant authorities.

Clan Head of Utanga, Chief Joseph Suhumba said that they are hosting over one thousand refugees and that the communities have over stretched themselves with the provision of the basic need of the refugees.

He said they have incurred huge debts while caring for them and urged the state government to take over the management of the refugees.

According to him the influx of the people which is increasing by the day require compensative medical assessment and treatment, shelter, food and non-food items such as mattresses, beddings, towels, toiletries and other sundry needs.

One of the refuges, Mr. Toko Zacharia, who said he was the postmaster of Akwaya in Cameroon, said that he had to escape following an alleged plan by the authorities to arrest him over his involvement in the agitation for independence of the southern Cameroon.

Also, Mr. Abia Hillary said he spent several days in the bush without food and that he was lucky to drink from springs which abound in the hills and valley of Cameroon. He, however, lamented that he does not known the whereabouts of his family, who he feared might be hunted following his escape.

Another refugee, Agba Christopher said that he was the lucky one among so many youths in Akwaya community in Cameroon who were allegedly killed by government soldiers.

He lauded the people of Nigeria, most especially their host communities for their hospitality in spite of the obvious challenges of shelter, food and medical attention.

Mrs. Grace Ifemi, a mother of two, who was overwhelmed with tears while narrating her ordeal, said the attack by soldiers on her village created panic, which prompted the escape of the people of the community. She said that she was able to escape with just one child and her mother while the whereabouts of her husband and one other child were still unknown.

Though she is grateful for the benevolence of the community, despite the inadequacies, she wondered how long they would be able to sustain it. Her fear is that they may soon become a burden to the community and may be chased out soon.

However, the cheering news is that some of the children have been admitted into some schools in the area. For instance, a former student of Government High School, Akwaya, Fatima Tor, 13, who got enrolled in Emirem International Academy, Utanga, Obanliku said she was happy to be safe in Nigeria but feared for the lives of her parents who were still missing.

The Director General of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr. John Inaku, said that the state government was abreast with the challenges of the refugees and assured they would try their best and work with relevant agencies to bring succour to the people.

He lauded the host communities for their magnanimity and called for sustenance.

On his part, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who had visited the communities to strategize on the management of the situation, expressed shock at the volume of the refugees.

The delegation which was led by Mr. John Inaku, expressed concern over the sorry condition and assured of partnership with both the state and federal governments to adequately address the situation.

Mr. Sam Agwa, also of the UNHCR described the state of refugees as worrisome as they apparently lacked the basic needs for their comfort.

He commended the host communities for their magnanimity saying it was unprecedented and assured that support would be rendered to them from the UNCHR with the provision of food and non-food items.

Another UNCHR official Mr. Mshilia Ibrahim, said that the refugees situation has assumed a global issue hence the intervention by the agents of the United Nations.

He noted that plans were been intensified to provide shelter for the refugees so as to make it conducive to manage the people and to give them a sense of belonging.

As a means to alleviate the suffering of the people, the UN agency has distributed relief materials said to be worth millions of naira to the refugees.

A 59 year old beneficiary, Madam Florence Okumo, who has a family of nine expressed joy over the gesture, describing the exercise as life saving. She said the material would go a long way in complementing the efforts of the host communities.

Another beneficiary, Abushi Glory thanked the UNHCR and the Nigerian government for the humanitarian service, which she said has restored hope to the distressed and agonizing migrants.

She recounted how she escaped for her life alongside some of her family members to Nigeria following the attack on her village, Akwaya in Southern Cameroon by soldiers, leaving several people dead.

According to her, she witnessed her tailoring equipment and cloths from her shop burnt, while two male youths were shot dead.

Mrs Agba Defime said they were surprised at the hospitable nature of Nigerians which she said is different from the impression they had before now.

The chief executive officer of RHEMA care, and implementing partner for UNHCR, Mr Eric Shu said that the distribution of the relief material was systematically done to ensure that all the asylum seekers benefitted.

He said that the exercise would also be carried out in Amana, the Ranch in Obanliku, Danare in Boki, Ikom and Ajassor in Etung local government areas.

The Community Relations Officer for Obanliku, Mr. Daniel Okono said that efforts were been made to contain the influx of the asylum seekers who are crossing the borders into Nigerian towns on daily basis.

Meanwhile, activities at the Cameroon-Nigeria border towns of Mfum have begun gathering momentum following the partial reopening of the Ekok border at the Cameroon axis.

Speaking with our correspondent, some of the businessmen in the area said it was a big relief for them since the Ekok border was reopened.

According to them, the unfortunate incident had paralyzed their businesses and most of the perishable goods on transit to both countries were trapped and had gone bad causing loss of millions of naira.

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  1. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

    Article 7: Crimes against humanity

    For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts:

    (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

    “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law.

    In a time when world leaders are assembling in an African emergency meeting to dig the root causes of forced migration and put an end to it, one of them that was completely isolated in Abidjan rushes back to his palace to create a record level displacement via his genocidal administrators. Your end will be rough Biya.

    • Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

      Article 7: Crimes against humanity

      For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts:

      (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

      “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law.

      In a time when world leaders are assembling in an African emergency meeting to dig the root causes of forced migration and put an end to it, one of them that was completely isolated in Abidjan rushes back to his palace to create a record level displacement via his genocidal representatives. Your end will be rough Biya

  2. Sad that southern cameroonians have to seek Refuge in Nigeria,There is no big difference btw Nigeria and LIBYA.Most of this southern cameroonians will be Trafficked and sold to rich families in Nigeria like slaves,force into Prostitution,fall into occult societies or sects,body parts will be mutilated and sold in Nigeria.god have mercy on SC

  3. This is really escaping fro frypan to fire

  4. No big deal.
    Sisiku is over there and need people to form his republic.
    All they need now is land and that will be outside Kamerun

    • Faut souvent faire attention avec vos déclarations insensées. Ces populations ont -elles voté pour un certain Sisiku? Des familles entieres innocentes qui sont forcées à quitter le chez eux a cause de l’insécurité et la violence crés par Biya et Sisiku! On parle de 7000 réfugiés, parmi lesquels plein d’enfants. C’est terrible et innaceptable. Mettez vous un peu a leur place!
      Faut savoir faire la différence entre les vrais bourreaux et les innocents.

      • Listen Madame,
        I would have let it pass, but I am not sure about your argumentation.
        I am sure the GOC ADIS not kick anyone out of the country. These people leaving for Nigeria are being manipulated or relatives have something to answer and now feel the heat.
        So please your high road has no place now.
        The GOC of Kamerun has to reestablish its authority to allow Cameroonians to go about their businesss in peace and security.children have the righ to education instead of seeing their schools being torched.
        So I am not sure about your stand.
        I do not care about BIYA.
        I care about my beloved country and will give anything for it.

        • Oops
          ….. I am sure the GOC did not kick anyone out of their land or house ….

        • Mr. Mbappe is truly very proud of his LR of which Southern Cameroons is not part of it so bravo Sir.

    • Mboma and Mbappe, if you continue to mock an oppress for what ever reasons, then be rest assured that your famillies will be next to be oppressed by nature or powers you cannot handle. Life is not ruled by man but by God and his precepts remain altimate irrespective of the errors, ego or wrongs of man. In what ever you do, always have that in mind.


  5. bamendaybBoy

    nobody kicks them out they have choose.

    where is Sisiku

  6. President Buhari, it is time to tell Cameroon’s president to his face as it is! For a president to stand in front of national media and declare war against his people is unprecedented in modern politics! His statement two days ago has been followed up by his administrators each trying to outrun the other so as to please their god in Yaoundé. After he made that 30 second statement, Machiavellian actions among DOs, Mayors, Ministers, have mushroomed all over our land. Parents are now making the painful choice of asking their young children to flee while they stay behind and face the looming wrath of the regime! In 1994, the Hutu government of Rwanda referred to the Tutsis as cockroaches. Today, Biya’s government is referring to us as terrorists! Is history about to repeat itself?

    • Correct yourself. He is labeling secessionists who are burning down our schools, infrastructures and raising an unrecognized flag on our territory terrorists and not Anglophone Cameroonians. The majority of Anglophones don’t belong to that group. You guys wanted a fight with Biya and his brutal BIR. The fight has been brought to your door. Man no run. I only feel sorry for those unfortunate women and children who have now been caught in the crossfire and are now fleeing their country as a result of being manipulated by the grand terrorist Ayuk Sesekou. This idiot needs to be brought to justice for misleading Cameroonians. I earlier said this guy has some Biafra blood in him and doesn’t really care about Cameroonians as long as he achieves his wicked means which will never happen.

    • Cameroon has obtained the permission to chase the trouble makers right into Nigeria. The government must take its responsibility and exercise its authority.

      Those delusional vandals that have been claiming to have massive support in Nigeria would be very disillusioned by this development. Nigeria is washing off its hands as Cameroon has gone on a justified offensive on an unprecedented scale. Not long from now, Sesekoko, Tassang, and others may be in Yaounde, if they don’t find a way to escape right now.

      Those Ambazombi ‘elite forces’ that murdered soldiers and police officers must stand up and face the war situation that they have been begging for.

    • @ Senator “For a president to stand in front of national media and declare war against his people is unprecedented in modern politics”. I thought you were Ambazonians with a president, government and defence force. I said it before. All those who beat the drums of war and applaud the killing of soldiers and the destruction of property will bear the responsibility of the bloodshed they have orchestrated in Cameroon. The war you have been clamoring has arrived.

  7. Taken refuge in Nigeria for our ADF to confront and unleashed the hell out of these LRC thugs is the best strategy. Our people are well taken care of by their comrades in neighboring Nigeria

  8. Yesterday despondent Nigerians found refuge in Cameroon; today it is Cameroonians going to Nigeria in their hour of need. A better symbiotic relation is hard to find.

    And the exchange between peoples who straddle a border is nothing new. Chad/Cameroon, Gabon/Cameroon, Central Africa/ Cameroon or Equatorial Guinea/ Cameroon interactions are routine and to be expected. The fuss over Nigeria/Cameroon relations is the handiwork of myopics, especially those unable or unwilling to differentiate between Biafra as a foreign entity and persons of NW/SW regions.

    • “the handiwork of myopics, especially those unable or unwilling to differentiate between Biafra as a foreign entity and persons of NW/SW regions.”

      So can you expand on that old man.
      You seem to be a teacher or some kind of instructor on this forum while in fact you are a very delusional old man with early signs of dementia.

  9. Épée Dipanda

    La vengeance ce plat qui Se mange froid

  10. There is no military solution to this problem.The earlier this lazy corrupt tribalist dictator realises and start a meaningful and genuine dialogue the better.You can kill all the people but you cannot kill ideas.This is already engraved in the minds of Southern Cameroonians and i don’t see it going out anytime soon!

    • Of course, ideas do die… especially retrogressive and disruptive ideas from delusional adventurers. The barren idea that is ‘engraved’ in your mind will die with you… and structural cosmic forces will generate new and progressive ideas which your society will embrace.

  11. “ The war you have been clamoring for has arrived “, “ The war you have been begging for has arrived”! “ Cameroon has obtained permission to chase the trouble makers right into Nigeria”! The euphoria, the chest beating and the threats are not different from obtained at the beginning, when leaves carrying protesters were branded terrorists, cowards. The dynamics have not changed, the quest to forcefully bring anglophone under French eternal subjugation is still on the march. As you compete for ostentation on who shows off his or her patriotic favor best, the warning we have given you here time and again hasn’t changed. You will be held responsible for months of knocking down doors, dragging out young men to kill and finally loading soldiers into coaches to go fight an urban war.

    • Dream on. This is just the beginning. You should be celebrating this refugee crisis. Your violent thuggery is paying off. You can’t have it both ways. You myopic extremist morons have rejected all attempts by either the gov’nt or people like Balla to engage in dialogue. You have branded any Anglo who does not share your warped fallacy a black-leg. You have chosen violence…against Anglophones…because your barren ideas are unrealistic, and nobody wants to be a part of that insanity. You have zero leverage, zero territory, barren ideas and a confused juvenile strategy. You can’t seem to decide who your foe is…Is it francophones? Is it Biya? Or is it Anglophones? But your time is near. Keep sending out youths to kill and destroy property. Every single one of you will answer.

    • That epic rant and jumble betrays a lot of anger for having been called out! Remember your “ Some of us peace lovers?” Here you are the man of peace caught in your own deceit, falling over yourself welcoming war and taunting people whose taxes you are using to buy weapons. I just wanted you to know that you were the early ones calling Anglophones terrorists and cowards and you are now also the first openly applauding dead squads arriving in their midst. Your vindictive nature has completely been exposed time and again, that’s why you are ranting uncontrollably. Live with it!

      • As expected, you are incapable of countering the facts I laid out above. So you fabricate quotes and attribute them to me. Nice try. I have never uttered the words you quoted. I never called anglophones terrorists. Liar! You and your SCACUF dimwits are the terrorists! You amputate students, you burn down schools, you use violence on the same anglos you claim to defend. What I have maintained here is that we should pursue a strategy that prioritises the life and safety of anglos. That we take up every opportunity for dialogue. The gov’nt has offered some, we could build on those. Balla, Fru Ndi and co have initiated such a process. But the terrorists and buffoons that you and your ilk are prefer war and chaos. We now have dead soldiers and refugees, thanks to your brilliant ideas. SMH.

        • You are now counting on this same Fru Ndi! Shame on you! Your life is full of ironies. You are a francophone, but when you were raped by other francophones, you rushed to hide under Anglophones. Today, you jump out telling them the war they wanted has come. Our people are not heading over to Dschang! All you see is the burning of schools. What about the more 300 killed? If you accept that you ever called anyone terrorist and coward, then it won’t be you. Enjoy your self exile eternal refugee!

  12. French people were rooted off their land by the Germans.Thanks to USA and allied forces who reconquered the land for them.Hutus killed a million Tutsis within a month in Rwanda and today a Tutsi is the president of Rwanda.While Mr Paul Biya may as he claims have every right to kill and maim Anglophones he should not forget that the blood he is spilling right now in Cameroon carries along its path ,the wheel of fortune and its sister the reversal of fortune.So the beggar of today may become the billionaire of tomorrow and vice versa.And today’s victim may surely become boss tomorrow.

  13. Biya have forcefully made this people to flee their homes after declaring war. Off course we saw the communique by his SDO for manyu,evicting people from their villages,else they would be considered as terrorists and will be treated as such.And we are seeing the result.People are fleeing their homes to go take refuge in Nigeria.This is good.Let them set the stage for Ayaba Cho and his boys to mount the stage and face the LRC army.Whether we like it or not,the anglophone question will be solved this time around,with all options on the table.Yes,blood will be shared,and that is what the UN and the international community understands.People will die,and at the end of the day,Ambasonia will hoist their flag.
    No dialogue without UN,AU,Britain and France.Sesekou Ayuk have said it clear.

  14. @Mbappe Why is Biya pretending that he want to go and fight the ”terrorist”, when the population of the anglophone region does not support his gov’t to defeat the ”terrorist”. In a war,no side is suppose to kill civilians.But we all know that,since this crisis started,it is the gov’t that have killed civilians they are pretending to want to protect againsts ”terrorist”.The gov’t army went into people’s houses and drag them out and shoot them on their legs.But, on the contrary,those ”terrorist” have not killed any civilian?So,between the gov’t and the seccessionists,who is the terrorists? Your gov’t even went as far as issuing a communique,asking civilians to quit their villages,else they would be considered as ”terrorist” and will be treated as such.

  15. @Mbappe Biya can never win a war against Sesekou Ayuk Tabe.Except u want to tell me that,the almighty God of justice is not on the thrown.If u want to say that Biya will win,may be u should start by telling me who won the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.When Eritrea was fighting to seperate from Etiopia.This war promises to be the battle of armageddon and Biya will lose big time.Just watch what is going to happen.I don’t pity Biya,I pity but francophones like u who will suffer latter.Becos your country,LRC will be the poorest country in sub saharan Africa.No more petrol for u guys.As for Biya and his gang,they have saved enough for themselves and their families.It is ordinary francophones like u who will suffer in that poor country of yours.

    • Anyone who understands the sociology of secessionist movements knows that only a tribe (including religiously similar groups) can secede. The reason your Amba daydream will never occur is simple: Anglophones are not a tribe. I challenge you to show me any country that has successfully seceded that is not a tribe. Eritreans are a tribe, Slavs, Czechs, East Timorees, Catalans, Quebecois. These are all tribes. These tribes pre-date the states from which they have wanted to secede: they have existed forever. If Anglophones were all say Bayangi or Bali, your secessionist daydream could have been reality. But you base your secessionist rationale on a language imposed on us less than a century ago. The English language is too weak a bond, to provoke secession. In short, it’s a waste of time.

      • Thank you brother.
        I couldn’t have put it any better.

      • The English language is weak as a bond, rather it is the French language that is very strong! Question, why did the strong bond between francophones lead to the desire from your Bamileke people to burn down the country, eliciting a genocide from other francophones. Anglophones have milestones together; GCE board, Universities, best institutions of learning in the country, cleanest cities in the country. These are Anglophones working together. Flip the coin and you see francophones having the highest number of criminals at Kondengui, have had 56 years of wasted dreams, no single express way in any of their cities, have put so called national unity in total peril. Anglophones work together, and it is your Bamilekes who are vomited and called enemies in the house.

        • You are so predictable. When you run out of ideas you fall back to your default babble: bamileke this…refugee this…bamilke that. You don’t know me. It is the height of absurdity when all you have to offer is second-guessing identities on an anonymous forum like this. Such silliness! You are an intellectual lightweight. You have run out of arguments… all you have left is regurgitating your futile Bamileke silliness. Loser!

        • Not at all! I have laid out what Anglophones can do together and what francophones have been doing for 56 years. Yeah, I need to keep reminding you that your people were maquisards and burnt a lot of things. You therefore have this primitive desire to hurt in your DNA, that is why you rushed here taunting Anglophones about war. Being in Germany for more than 20 years means you are just groping in darkness about Cameroon. Why not pick up a gun and go and tell Anglophones that the warrior they have been waiting for has come. Now that you are being hammered into pulp , you want to cease being Bamileke!Small nuisible vindictive refugee!

        • There is something amusing and pitiful about the silliness of you struggling so hard to pin an identity on someone about whom you know nothing. I almost feel sorry for you. You are unable debate me with ideas…so you deflect and chant bami bami . That’s a sign of desperation. It proves you have reached the limit of your mental aptitude.. your bag is empty…there is nothing left. I won’t waste my time answering to such silliness. Come back when you have something more substantive to offer.

  16. @Nyamfuka That is where u have been deceiving yourself. SCnians are not seceeding.The SC territory does not belong to French Cameroon,so they are not seceeding.Continuing to use the word secession in this case will not help u.Becos,we know the right word,which is,seperation.Gambia seperated from Senegal. We base our seperatist ideology on our bounday,inherited at independence.Remember,French Cameroon and Nigeria got independence before SC? Just to tell u that,SC was an independent country with a gov’t and a parliament after LRC and Nigeria had gotten their independence in 1960 and SC got her own independence on Ist Oct 1961.So,neither LRC Nor Nigeria can claim ownership of SC.Eritrea was operating as a seperate country before UN federated them with Ethiopia in 1952.Go and learn

    • That is factually untrue. Gambia never “separated” from Senegal. Gambia had been a British colony since 1750 and gained independence from Britain in 1965. Call it what you want…separation or secession. It will not work for the same reason I stated above.

  17. @Nyamfuka Go and learn about Senegambian Confederation before blabbing here….SC’s territory does not belong to Yaounde,but Buea.If u think that SC will not seperate from LRC,go and think again…

  18. Go to wikipedia and teach yourself…….Senegambia, officially the Senegambia Confederation, was a loose confederation in the late 20th century between the West African countries of Senegal and its neighbour The Gambia, which is almost completely surrounded by Senegal. The confederation was founded on 1 February 1982 following an agreement between the two countries signed on 12 December 1981. It was intended to promote cooperation between the two countries, but was dissolved by Senegal on 30

  19. Go to wikipedia and learn……Senegambia, officially the Senegambia Confederation, was a loose confederation in the late 20th century between the West African countries of Senegal and its neighbour The Gambia, which is almost completely surrounded by Senegal. The confederation was founded on 1 February 1982 following an agreement between the two countries signed on 12 December 1981. It was intended to promote cooperation between the two countries, but was dissolved by Senegal on 30 September 1989 after The Gambia refused to move closer toward union.