With increasing conflict in neighboring countries, Cameroon must find a way to safely house its refugees and find a solution to the increasing food shortage. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Cameroon:
- In July 2005, a law was created to reflect the Cameroonian tradition of taking in foreigners. This justified the migration of thousands of refugees into Cameroon, fleeing abuse and violence in their own countries. There are three categories for these: Central African refugees, Nigerian refugees, and internally displaced persons.
- Increasing violence in Nigeria and the Central African Republic by the insurgency Boko Haram threatens the refugees finding solace in Cameroon.
- Boko Haram started out as a Nigerian armed group but now operates to carry out attacks and kidnappings on refugees.
- In January, Cameroon faced a “refugee crisis.” They needed to continue helping refugees escape the terror of Boko Haram while protecting their own citizens. The terror has resulted in nearly 1.6 million displaced people in Cameroon, which could potentially increase to 2.7 million in the coming year.
- The U.N. estimated that Cameroon already has approximately half a million registered refugees, not including the 200,000 registered internally.
- With the huge influx of refugees in the past few months, the U.N. and the Cameroonian government are worried about an impending food shortage. To support everyone, refugees in Cameroon will need $310 million over the next three years.
- Cameroon’s refugee camp, Minawao, currently hosts 32,621 Nigerian refugees. This is an increase of 16,000 following recent clashes between the North Eastern Nigerian military and Boko Haram.
- As tensions increased on the border, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) discussed setting up a second refugee camp. Once the screening is complete, the camp will house nearly 66,000 refugees, of which 41,571 were verified by the UNHCR.
- Faced with a food shortage and increasing danger from Boko Haram, Cameroon began forcibly moving Nigerian refugees back home, around 2,600 people in total. Most of these refugees end up in camps for security reasons.
- To aid new refugees in Cameroon, UNICEF and its partners plan to help 58,000 children between five and six years old severely affected by acute malnutrition and 2,800 unaccompanied children. They also plan to provide approximately 145,000 children between ages 3-17 with quality formal or informal basic education in 2017.
Cameroon became a beacon of hope to neighboring countries. A beacon which now must rely on foreign aid to continue helping refugees and prevent a nationwide food shortage, while keeping its own citizens safe from the wrath of Boko Haram.
– Amira Wynn