YAOUNDE, CAMEROON —
The United Nations refugee agency is warning that a food and humanitarian crisis is looming in Cameroon - where hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge fleeing violence in Nigeria and the Central Africa Republic (C.A.R.) The representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, Ndeye Ndiougue Ndour, said people fleeing terrorist activities in Nigeria and carnage in the C.A.R. are arriving in Cameroon in bad shape. Some have wounds inflicted by Boko Haram and anti-Balaka militias.
"This situation is creating a lot of problems for the host communities and also for the government. The first priority is to find a solution for those who arrive in bad health conditions because they arrive with high levels of malnutrition and people are traumatized," said Ndeye.
Some 150,000 people have taken refuge in Cameroon in the last two months. They join more than a quarter of a million refugees who escaped from the Central Africa Republic and Nigeria earlier this year.
Ndeye said Cameroon is being thrown into crisis on many fronts - with severe pressure on dwindling resources to sustain the refugees.
"There are around 60,000 refugees who have decided to live in the villages because they came also with many livestock. It means you have a need in water you have a need in health. The capacity for the health centers, the capacity for the schools need to be increased," said Ndeye.
In July, the government of Cameroon asked for international assistance to cope as the number of refugees had doubled since January.
Jean Pierre Nana, director of civil protection in the country's Ministry of Territorial Administration, said there is a serious humanitarian crisis, in addition to security, socio-economic and refugee management challenges. He said they immediate solutions, like the construction of toilets, hospitals, wells and the provision of planting seeds for both the refugees and their host communities, are needed.
Most of the refugees prefer living in border areas, complicating the situation and leaving them and their host villages even more insecure.
Cameroon has deployed its military to close and patrol the borders in the north - where Boko Haram attacks have been on the rise for a year.