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Cameroon Says Border Conflict Exacerbating Hunger and Malnutrition

Authorities in Cameroon say thousands of people who fled communal violence near the borders with Chad and Nigeria are suffering from malnutrition with scores of children dying in the past few weeks.

The conflict in December between cattle ranchers and fishers left at least 40 people dead and pushed more than 100,000 into Chad. Many have since returned but aid groups say the displaced are struggling to survive.

Maroua is the capital of Cameroon’s Far North region that shares borders with Nigeria and Chad. The Cameroon government said thousands of people in the northern border with Chad and Nigeria are suffering from malnutrition with scores of children dying in the past few weeks.

Tomato seller Mota Nyako said she is lucky her malnourished son did not die. She rushed the 2-year-old to the hospital because he was vomiting ceaselessly and had severe diarrhea. She said her son has begun gaining weight after receiving treatment at the hospital for a week. Nyako said she is going to inform women whose children are losing weight to immediately bring them to the hospital where their lives will be saved.

Nyako, who spoke via a messaging app from Maroua, said she was displaced from a border district with Chad, during clashes with farmers and fishermen over water. Nyako said she is poor and cannot afford enough food for herself and her son.

Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health said the thousands of new malnourished people reported within the past two months adds to the more than 100,000 children in northern Cameroon currently suffering from acute malnutrition.

Flobert Danbe, a Cameroon health official in charge of malnutrition in Cameroon’s Far North region, said malnutrition is severe in Kousseri, Mada, Makary and Goulfe, districts on Cameroon’s northern border with Chad and Nigeria. He said Mayo Tsanaga administrative unit, which has the highest food production basin on the border with Chad and Nigeria, is also reporting increasing cases of malnutrition because of an influx of displaced persons.

Cameroon said tens of thousands of its citizens fled the December 2021 bloody conflicts over water between cattle ranchers and fishermen to Mayo Tsanaga. Some of the displaced persons have returned but their plantations have been severely damaged by battles or by heavy rains and flooding.