At least 3,000 people have been displaced in fresh fighting along the Nigerian-Cameroonian border, according to forces battling Boko Haram militants.
Refugees at Minawao, a camp on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria, say the number of people seeking humanitarian assistance in the camp increases by the day.
Isaac Luka, president of Nigerian refugees at Minawao, said the current influx caused by hunger and gun battles is making living conditions that were already bad in the camp even worse.
"There are Nigerians coming from the host community around the border," he told VOA via a messaging app from Minawao on Wednesday. "They were given portions of land to start cultivating food, but this year the season was not good for the harvest and recurrent attacking at the border pushed them to the camp. They have their relations in the camp. They share the little they have. Some go selling firewood to earn something for their children."
Luka fled Nigeria's Borno state in June 2014 after Boko Haram terrorists killed more than 20 people in his village, including his family.
He said host communities around the camp are also overwhelmed by the number of civilians escaping hunger and battles between Cameroon government troops and Boko Haram fighters along the northern border with Chad and Nigeria.
Toudje Voumou, the highest government official in Mayo-Moskota district, said the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, or MNJTF, has increased its presence on the border. The force has troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Voumou said for about two weeks there have been intense battles between Cameroon government troops and Boko Haram militants on both sides of the Cameroon-Nigeria border. Voumou added that several military posts have been erected to face Boko Haram militants hiding and harassing civilians in villages on both sides of the border.
MNJTF announced in February that the month of March will be dedicated to wiping out remaining Boko Haram fighters in the border area.
The force said several attacks have been launched on Boko Haram strongholds, but did not specify how many jihadists have been killed or wounded.
The Cameroon government said civilians should assist troops fighting the jihadists by reporting strangers in their villages. The government also said it has remobilized militias to assist with the ongoing battles against Boko Haram by reporting strangers and armed men hiding in the bush to government troops.
Olivier Guillaume Beer, the UNHCR representative in Cameroon, spoke to Cameroon state broadcaster CRTV this week, saying humanitarian conditions for displaced persons is concerning.
"We have 2,500 people in the transit center, which has a capacity of 300. These people are supposed to be registered and then go to the Minawao refugee camp, which is already very saturated. Sixty-seven thousand people in the camp," Beer said. "So, these are our challenges. We need more resources to be able to register and document them, to provide health care, increase the number of classrooms, and alleviate the suffering of this population.”
During an April 2022 visit to Cameroon, the U.N.'s refugee chief, Filippo Grandi, vowed to give more support to displaced persons and refugees fleeing violence and natural disasters. However, the U.N. said it received only 23% of the $100 million it needed to take care of the growing needs of refugees in the central African state.
Boko Haram attacks broke out in Nigeria in 2009 before spreading to neighboring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
More than 36,000 people have been killed, mainly in Nigeria, and 3 million have fled their homes, according to the United Nations.