Porous Nigeria-Cameroon border worries UN

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has said it is concerned about the growing insecurity at the border areas between Nigeria and Cameroon, where thousands of Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks have sought refuge.

The insurgents have in recent times launched repeated cross-border attacks from Nigerian border towns into northern Cameroon, hindering the UN agency’s efforts to relocate refugees from the volatile border area to Minawao camp, located about 120 kilometres away from the border.

At a press conference recently held in Geneva to address the increasing level of attacks by the insurgents, the UNHCR spokesman, William Spindler, stated that recent clashes between the terrorist group and Cameroonian military forces broke out in the village of Koubougué, on the Cameroonian side, resulting in the death of five civilians.

Koubougué is located four kilometres from the border town of Fotokol, where about 1,000 refugees are awaiting transfer to Minawao Camp.

Spindler said, “Cameroonian civilians are living in a state of terror due to frequent insurgent attacks, a situation that has been further aggravated by the fact that the insurgents from Nigeria have reportedly started targeting civilians in Cameroon. Nigerian refugees, who fled previous attacks by the insurgents in north-eastern Nigeria, are asking to be moved away from the border area as quickly as possible.

Recently arrived refugees say that access to Cameroon is becoming extremely difficult and dangerous as insurgents have taken control of several border towns and villages like Gwoza, Bama, and Banki in Borno State, Bara in Yobe State, and Michika, Madagali and Gulak in Adamawa State.

“As such, refugees were forced to flee on foot through the bush and crossed the Elbeid River before entering Cameroon.”

The UN refugee agency added that many of the refugees had become traumatised having witnessed the killing of their loved ones.

“They say insurgents entered their villages and stole everything before burning their houses. Many refugees are traumatised, after having seen their relatives brutally murdered. Many families have also been separated after fleeing their villages, leaving many women and children extremely vulnerable,” the UNHCR noted.

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