United Nation - The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday said it was stepping up efforts to move some 5 000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon from a border town amid ongoing cross-border attacks by insurgents.
The office of the UNHCR said in a statement in NewYork that some 100 Nigerian refugees cross into Cameroon every day and that the Nigerian refugees had been living in “absolute fear” of the insurgents.
The agency, the statement added, had already relocated more than 8,600 over the past two weeks as cross-border fighting worsened.
It stated that on September 18, insurgents attacked a series of Cameroonian villages located along the border with Nigeria and burnt more than 10 churches.
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It noted that 10 days earlier, insurgents attacked villages in the area, killing eight people and seizing 300 motorbikes.
Since the beginning of the attacks in Nigeria, local authorities in Cameroon reported the arrival of 43 720 Nigerian refugees, including 26 720 registered by UNHCR.
In the statement, the commission said, since the crisis in north-eastern Nigeria, some 70 000 people sought refuge in neighbouring Niger and some 1 600 in Chad.
An estimated 650 000 people were internally displaced in north-eastern Nigeria due to the insurgency, the commission said.
The agency said it was moving some 5 000 Nigerian refugees from the border town of Fotokol from the nearby Nigerian town of Gamboru Ngala, which had fallen under insurgent control this month.
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In Fotokol, it added, living conditions were dire as refugees lived in overcrowded classrooms and in makeshift shelters constructed with pieces of cloth.
It said the refugees relied on the local authorities and villagers for food.
The media recalled that on September 2, the UNHCR said recent attacks by insurgents had prompted thousands of people to seek refuge in Cameroon , with some sleeping in schools and churches.
The new arrivals, the commission said, fled recurrent attacks in the past three weeks in the Gwoza area in Nigeria’s Borno State before reaching safety in Cameroon.
Authorities report that 5 500 refugees have arrived in Kolfata, 3 000 in Keranawa and 370 in Mora, in the Mayo Sava and Logone-et-Chari districts.
On Sunday, the insurgents attacked Kerawa town in Cameroon, forcing refugees and some local residents to flee further inland.