News / Africa

CAR Refugees in Cameroon Arrive Sick And Dying, UN Says

A family of refugees from Central Africa sit under a tent with their new baby, born in Cameroon two weeks ago, at an UNHCR refugee camp in the eastern Cameroonian city of Garoua-Boulai, not far from the border with Central Africa, March 13, 2014.
A family of refugees from Central Africa sit under a tent with their new baby, born in Cameroon two weeks ago, at an UNHCR refugee camp in the eastern Cameroonian city of Garoua-Boulai, not far from the border with Central Africa, March 13, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
The U.N. refugee agency reports that more and more refugees from the troubled Central African Republic are arriving in Cameroon in desperate condition, with many of them sick and dying.

Aid workers in Cameroon are stepping up aid for the increasing number of refugees who arrive from the C.A.R. sick from hunger and exhaustion, according to the United Nations  High Commissioner for Refugees.  It says the refugees have been on the road for up to seven weeks without food or clean water. About 80 percent of the newest arrivals suffer from malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory infections and more than 20 percent of the children are malnourished.

UNHCR spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said the new arrivals recount nightmarish stories about the atrocities being committed in C.A.R.  They tell aid workers they were forced to hide in the bush for long periods in fear of being killed by anti-balaka militiamen who were targeting Muslims in revenge attacks.

She said the refugees say they had no choice but to flee for their lives despite the hardships they have encountered en route to Cameroon.

“Many have lost relatives to hunger along the way or shortly after reaching Cameroon.  They are also very much traumatized by the horrors they experienced in northwestern C.A.R., Lejeune-Kaba said. As an example, we have one refugee who said that he could no longer eat meat because he had seen someone being killed and cut into pieces by the anti-Balaka.   A woman has lost six of her nine children in the bushes after seven weeks.  And, this is a woman whose husband was also killed by the anti-Balaka,” she added.  

Lejeune-Kaba said 16 refugees died after reaching Cameroon in January and February, including six from severe malnutrition.  Despite emergency treatment, she said they could not be saved.  

Since the crisis has accelerated in the C.A.R, about 9,000 Chadians who were in the country have fled to Kenzou in Cameroon.  The UNHCR spokeswoman says 33 children who have arrived there have died.  She says 20 are Chadians.  The identity of the 13 others is unknown.  

Lejeune-Kaba told VOA it is not unusual to have refugees arriving in a country of asylum exhausted, sick and hungry.  But, she said the extremely dire condition of the C.A.R. refugees upon arrival is not normal.

“We do have cases in refugee situations where people travel long distances and come exhausted for sure.  We have seen it with the Sudanese who are fleeing from the Blue Nile, for example, coming into South Sudan.  But, we did not systematically hear about losing family members along the way, the way we are hearing from the C.A.R. refugees now,” she said. 

The UNHCR reports more than 44,250 refugees from the C.A.R. have fled to Cameroon since March 2013.  That is when Muslim Seleka forces seized the capital, Bangui and ousted the government.  

The agency said new arrivals are living with host families or are sheltering in mosques, churches, a stadium, or in makeshift sites.  Some are sleeping out in the open.  In an effort to head off more deaths, the UNHCR says it is increasing assistance in border areas and posting nutrition specialists, site planners and other emergency staff.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs