Cameroon Begs Displaced Civilians to Return

The U.N.'s refugee agency (UNHCR) says the number of Cameroonians fleeing communal violence in the north of the country to neighboring Chad has reached 85,000. Cameroon has dispatched a delegation to Chad to convince those who fled the fighting over water resources to return home.

UNHCR says the total number of people who have fled this month has increased to 100,000. Most have fled to neighboring Chad, but 15,000 are hiding in safer Cameroonians towns and villages.

Fighting broke out in the Cameroonian border village of Ouloumsa two weeks ago between Arab Choua cattle herders and Mousgoum fishers, sending tens of thousands fleeing to Chad.

Cameroonian officials said the clashes over water resources left villages and markets torched, plantations destroyed, and livestock killed or stolen.

The UNHCR representative in Chad, Papa Kysma Sylla, said the needs of fleeing civilians is increasing by the day.

"We are on an emergency mode openly declared from our headquarters, so we created a coordination with several NGOs and UN agencies (like) WFP, UNICEF, Red Cross,” Sylla said. “So we are all providing assistance and mobilizing money and or human resources."

Mahamat Kerimo Sale, mayor of the N'djamena 9 district in Chad, spoke to VOA via messaging application.

Sale said the president of Chad's Transitional Military Council, Mahamat Deby, gave instructions to Chadians to peacefully welcome civilians fleeing the conflicts in Cameroon. He said they are providing basic needs like food and water and aid groups and UN agencies like UNICEF are also helping with soap and blankets to reduce the suffering of those displaced from Cameroon.

Sale said members of the clashing communities who fled Cameroon are kept separately to avoid conflict in Chad.

Cameroon’s government this week dispatched a delegation to Chad to assist those who fled the violence.

Territorial administration minister Paul Atanga Nji led the delegation of ministers, military officials, and lawmakers. He thanked Chad’s government and people for the care given to displaced Cameroonians. He also asked the displaced to return to their homes in Cameroon and make peace with their neighbors.

"As much as we preach peace, unity, harmony and living together, we are trying to sensitize the population that they should not take the laws into their hands and that if there is any problem, they have to go to the closest administrative authorities or the forces of law and order and complain,” he said. “If because of land or grazer and farmers problems, you start killing and looting, I think it is not a very good example. We are in a state of law."

Nji said so far 6,000 Cameroonians who fled to Chad have agreed to return home.

Cameroonian authorities said they have deployed troops to the areas in conflict to ensure the safety of all citizens.

Source: Voice of America