Cameroon Authorities Tremble as Central African Conflict Pours Refugees, ‘Armed’ Insurgents into East Region

Yvette Faradongo cuddles her crying six-year-old daughter in a desperate effort to comfort the hungry-looking and exhausted child. She has trekked several kilometres through the forest to Garoua-Boulaii in Cameroon’s Eastern region, fleeing conflict in her home country- the Central African Republic.

“I trekked for three days before getting here,” she tells Timescape Magazine. “We are fleeing death,” she adds.

Rebels attacked her hometown this month in the wake of the country’s December 27 Presidential election that has been rejected by the rebels under the Coalition of Patriots for Change, CPC.

The rebel coalition support former President, François Bozize whose candidature for the December 27 the presidential election was rejected by the country’s Constitutional Court. The rebels, who now control two-thirds of the country’s territory, have overrun several key towns in the Central African Republic as they mobilize towards the capital Bangui.

Women and Children are usually the most affected by these armed conflicts across Africa (C) UN News- the United Nations

“My younger sister was killed in the attack,” Faradongo says, trying unsuccessfully to hold back her tears.

Faradongo is just one of the nearly 5,000 Central African refugees to have entered Cameroon since the election took place, according to the Deputy Country Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Cameroon, Cesar Tshilombo.

“At least 500 Central African Republic refugees enter Cameroon every day,” he says. He adds that the new arrivals have been reporting cases of abuse.

“The recent movements that we have recorded are for people who have been reporting abuses and also looting and some violence against human rights,” he notes.

Deputy Country Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Cameroon, Tshilombo Mbavu Cesar (R)- (C) Twitter

With the fresh influx comes the need for additional resources to deal with the rising needs in terms of providing them with the required documentation, and the basics for survival.

“…they have left everything, and when they arrive here, they need food,” Tshilombo tells Timescape Magazine in Yaounde.

“Happily, we have the World Food Program assisting and the communities also assisting. Then the shelter issue is still a big problem that we need to sort out. And then you have also the health care. We are in a period of Covid-19 pandemic. We need at least to take care of this dimension. And then also they need water and sanitation. And then, of course, we have a lot of children-how we can do to put them in schools by triggering emergency education for children. To set up this response, UNHCR will need almost 25.7 million US dollars,” Tshilombo laments.

In a weekend visit to Garoua Boulaii, the Cameroon Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji expressed concern that the influx of refugees could come with security risks for the region.

“We have to be ready for any eventuality. The situation is quite concerning. Political upheaval in the neighbouring countries has immediate repercussions on our security layout. That is why the Head of State has once again prescribed vigilance and anticipation,” he told reporters in Yaounde.

There have been reports in the past when armed men disguised as refugees have come into Cameroon’s East region from the Central African Republic. And with incessant reports of planned rebellions against the Yaounde regime; Atanga Nji says there is every reason to be watchful.