At least 8,000 Cameroonian refugees have fled to Nigeria’s eastern and southern states of Taraba and Cross Rivers for the past two weeks, bringing the total Cameroonian refugee population in the West African nation to nearly 60,000 people, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
The refugees are currently being sheltered in public schools and health facilities or with local families. Some of them arrived across the border with gunshot wounds.
UNHCR says it expects further arrivals as refugees inform that more people are still in remote border areas and could be on their way trying to reach Nigeria.
This latest influx took place just before Cameroon’s general elections last weekend as people fled ongoing violence between security forces and armed groups.
Separatists imposed a lockdown in the restive regions before the elections and called for a boycott. The government on its part deployed about 900 troops to the regions.
The recent exodus comes on top of increased internal displacement witnessed in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions in the last quarter of 2019.
According to new arrivals, most come from areas near the border and have trekked across savannah and forests to reach Nigeria.
Clashes between armed separatists and government forces, as well as between rival separatist factions, have resulted in civilian deaths, with people either killed deliberately or caught in the crossfire.
At least several dozen people have been killed in scores of incidents since November 2019, based on a review of credible media accounts, records produced by some United Nations agencies, and Human Rights Watch research.