News / Africa

    Cameroon's Muslim Refugees Return Home

    A family displaced by inter-communal violence in the country sit near  a plane in a camp for displaced persons at Bangui M'Poko International Airport, Feb. 20, 2014.
    A family displaced by inter-communal violence in the country sit near a plane in a camp for displaced persons at Bangui M'Poko International Airport, Feb. 20, 2014.
    Cameroon's military is bringing home the last of some 2,000 Muslim citizens who had taken refuge in the Cameroonian ambassador's residence in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR). They tell stories of atrocities committed by the anti-balaka Christian militias in CAR.

    Ibrahim Chieik Ismaila, a popular Muslim spiritual leader in Cameroon, prays for God's mercies at the main hall of the Douala International Airport. A group of people, including Mahamat Sherif, have gathered there expecting the return of their relatives from the troubled Central African Republic.

    He said he has been coming to the airport for one week to welcome his uncle's family that has been in CAR for 15 years.  But he has not seen or heard from them and is totally confused - he does not know if they have been killed or are still alive.

    For close to two weeks now, Cameroon military planes have been mobilized to repatriate citizens, especially Muslims, who have been subjects of recent attacks.  Only about 125 of the more than 600 who have returned within two weeks are men, the rest are children and women.  They say their men escaped into the bush and they do not know what has become of them.

    Fleeing Cameroonians, like 30-year-old Rabi Njoya, tell of horrible scenes as a result of the sectarian violence.

    He said he saw anti-balaka's slaughtering people as if they were human flesh eaters. He said all of his friends with whom he lived in Bangui were killed and he went to the Cameroonian embassy to ask for help.

    Sali Samma, 42, says the anti-balakas, a Christian militia formed after the rise to power of former CAR leader Michel Djotodia, accused him of working for their enemies, the Selekas, a Muslim militia. He said that was the reason he was injured.

    He said anti-balakas held him hostage and tied his hands and legs for more than an hour, accusing him of spying for the Selekas when he claims he is not a spy.

    The Christian militia leaders say they suffered at the hands of the Selekas and are now seeking revenge.  

    The Muslims returning to Cameroon say they have been under a growing threat since Michel Djotodia and his mostly Muslim fighters were blamed for scores of atrocities against the predominantly Christian population.  Even after Djotodia finally surrendered power and was replaced by Samba-Panza, they have seen no peace.

    The airlift ordered by Cameroon President Paul Biya is to return all Cameroonian citizens, especially Muslims in CAR.

    But people from other countries have also benefited. A pregnant Malian and two teenagers, who are suspected to be Central Africans, were also flown to the Douala airport.

    Saliou Adamou, who said he is a Malian, expressed gratitude to Cameroon for saving his life.

    He says he thanks the Cameroon embassy in Central African Republic.  He said they received us as if we were their Cameroonian brothers and forgot no one.

    Boubakari Oumarou who is from Chad said he had lied, saying he was a Cameroonian and was able to leave CAR.

    He said the Christian militia members came to his neighborhood in the PK 13 district of Bangui looting and pillaging against the Muslims. He says those who resisted were killed.

    Cameroonian authorities said it will be difficult to bring home only Cameroonians because many of them born in CAR do not have Cameroonian identification documents.

    Two Months ago, Cameroon organized a similar airlift and brought back more than 1900 people.

    This time around, the government is insisting that all Muslims who are still in CAR should return home and save their lives.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora