YAOUNDE - Cameroon is arresting and sending all Central African Republic (CAR) refugees in its territory to camps and the government does not want citizens of Cameroon to let them stay in their homes.
The decision comes after CAR refugees took for ransom multiple times, cattle ranchers and businessmen including a Cameroon mayor.
According to Governor Samuel Dieudonne Ivaha Diboua of eastern Cameroon, armed men from CAR posing as refugees took several people hostage for ransom, then stole goods and cattle.
"The refugees have to live in the sites," he insisted. "When they are in the sites they are well controlled and they are also receiving help from the state. If they don't have a site how would you know that in this house we have Central African's or Cameroonians. So our forces are catching [arresting] some and while in cell they said they are refugees but it is not said that a refugee has to be a bandit or an enemy of the republic."
Ivaha Diboua said hundreds of the refugees have been detained and he has instructed all Cameroonians hosting refugees to take them to nearby camps or face the consequences.
Poor living conditions
Hayang Desire, a resident and staff member working with the refugees, said the decision taken by the government will make the already poor living conditions of the refugees even worse.
He said it will reduce the crime wave but that the refugees will not have much to eat in the camps that lack humanitarian needs. And he said Cameroon should make sure it does not abuse the rights of the refugees by torturing them when they are arrested.
This year, Cameroon asked for international assistance to cope with the growing numbers of refugees
The United Nations estimates there are more than 200,000 refugees from the troubled Central African Republic in Cameroon.
The refugees are escaping fighting between mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias and Muslim Seleka rebels. The refugees are finding relative peace in Cameroon, but they are struggling with growing humanitarian needs such as finding food and water and this causes them to run away from the refugee camps.