News / Africa

UNHCR: CAR Refugees Enter Cameroon in Horrific Condition

Members of the anti-balaka, a Christian militia, patrol outside the village of Zawa, Central African Republic, April 8, 2014.
Members of the anti-balaka, a Christian militia, patrol outside the village of Zawa, Central African Republic, April 8, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
— The United Nations refugee agency reports thousands of refugees fleeing the Central African Republic are arriving in Cameroon in horrific condition.  Two senior officials who have just visited the region say the refugees report anti-Balaka militiamen are trying to prevent civilians from leaving the C.A.R. and are attacking them along the way.

"So, what we see…You can see the other side there.  It is not too far.  You see refugees walking over.  This day, over 1,000 actually came over," said Paul Spiegel.

Spiegel, a medical officer and senior manager for the U.N. refugee agency, describes video taken at a border crossing between Central African Republic and Cameroon.  He is watching refugees traverse a shallow river from the C.A.R. into Gbiti, in Cameroon.

“If you look, it looks as if their legs, their knees are actually quite swollen.  But, they are not.  It is that you have severe malnutrition, not just in children, which is more the norm, but in adults.  And, so they have lost so much body mass… These people have come over.  They have been walking for up to three months, many from Bangui…They have been hiding out in the evenings.  They have been eating mostly leaves, very poor water," he said.

Spiegel says many of the refugees arrive with wounds from machetes or gunshots.  He says the refugees were forced to take lengthy detours to reach this remote border post because anti-Balaka militias block main roads.  This, he says, explains the extremely poor condition in which they arrive.

Liz Ahua, the UNHCR refugee coordinator for the C.A.R., and her colleagues got a close-up view of the refugee situation in the region.  She spoke with people who are displaced within C.A.R., with refugees in Chad and Cameroon, and with Chadians who have fled home after many years in exile.

She found these people deeply traumatized and broken in spirit.  

“Whether they be in exile or in their own country, these are people who basically have been caught in a situation that is akin to that of a web of vipers and they cannot get themselves out of it…. We need to help the population of Central Africa because they are into a descent into chaos and a descent into hell," said Ahua.

The number of refugees fleeing into Cameroon grows.  The Gbiti transit camp, which is meant to provide only temporary accommodation, now holds 15,000 refugees.  The UNHCR says it is looking for other sites to build more permanent camps.  It also is encouraging refugees to become integrated into the surrounding communities.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 69,000 refugees from the C.A.R. have fled to Cameroon.  The ongoing crisis in the C.A.R. has displaced about 1 million people since the end of 2012.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid