GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency is appealing for $184 million to support its life-saving operations for nearly a half-million Cameroonians displaced inside their country and as refugees in Nigeria.
Violent clashes between the Cameroonian military and armed separatists in the English-speaking parts of the country have intensified during the past year.
The U.N. refugee agency estimates more than 437,000 Cameroonians are internally displaced and more than 35,000 others have fled to Nigeria in search of refuge.
The UNHCR said most of the victims are women and children who have fled their homes with very little, and they often arrive in impoverished host communities where food, health, education, water and sanitation are scarce.
UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch tells VOA that violence is forcing civilians caught in the crossfire to flee for their lives.
“Civilians have suffered immensely and also burning of houses, torture, rape, kidnapping of school children in this region is a great concern for us," Balock said. "And, in terms of burning houses, we have reports that in over 172 villages in these regions, houses have been burned or destroyed.”
Baloch said the UNHCR, which he said is severely underfunded and unable to meet the growing needs, urgently needs $35 million to provide critical aid for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people.
Inside Cameroon, he said many people are living in overcrowded conditions, without proper shelter or health and sanitation. He said the UNHCR does not have enough money to protect the affected population.
That has put the safety of women, children, and people with disabilities, as well as lactating and pregnant women, at risk, he said.
Baloch said refugees in Nigeria are living in more than 47 villages along the border in makeshift settlements and are dependent upon humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.