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We’re dying, Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria cry for help

•How I lost husband, gave birth to twins while trying to escape death
•Our agitation for independence caused the crisis

By Femi Bolaji -JALINGO

The agony of widows, infants and the vulnerable Cameroonian refugees cooling off in some Taraba communities seemed to be getting worse owing to their increasing number amidst meagre resources to cater for their well-being.

At the last count, over 4000 refugees from Furawa sub-division, Baji, Nkan, Mashi, Lisan Lutu Cameroon among others have migrated to some communities in Ussa and Kurmi local government areas of Taraba state to escape the mayhem unleashed on agitators for the independence of Southern Cameroon.

For those plagued with one ailment or the other, help seemed farfetched as many lamented difficulty in getting medical help, coupled with starvation which has made them frail and pitiable.

When Vanguard visited Fikyu and Toso villages where some of them were being accommodated, the residents were weary and decried neglect by government and authorities responsible for refugees.

However, for people like Patience Andekun, what mattered was how to cater for the twins she gave birth to while fleeing her home country when the crises escalated to her village two months ago. Her husband who has been missing since the crisis started in her village seemed to be less of her worries right now. Other refugees also recounted how they escaped being consumed in the crisis and their present predicament.

I gave birth to twins while running away—Patience

Narrating her ordeal to Saturday Vanguard, Patience Andekun, the young mother of two said pandemonium broke out while she and her husband were asleep but had to run in different directions to escape being killed by the gun wielding attackers who stormed their village. She said, “I had to run because if I had stayed I would have been killed by now. I was pregnant but I never minded my condition to save my life like every other person that made it out of my village alive.

“On the way, I started feeling pains and discovered that the babies were about coming. At this time I never even saw my husband because he also ran away when they started killing people in the village.

“It was on our way to this village that I gave birth to the twins I am carrying now. I had to save their lives and mine by running. How I wish my husband was here to see our babies but I can’t tell if he is dead or alive. But since I came here, the church has been helping me and the children with food and accommodation.”

I hope to see my wife one day —Ezekiel

Another refugee, Ezekiel Rimar who fled his village in Baji with his only daughter lamented how he missed his wife whom he left behind. According to him, “I only picked my daughter when the crisis escalated to my village while my wife ran in a different direction. I have been here for about two months and hope to see my wife someday because I miss her.

“We ran here to live with some of our relatives who have been staying here for sometime and I really regret how everything turned out because we lost a lot of people. The way we have been living our life there even before the crisis was terrible. There was no payment of salaries and most projects were not sited in the south which was why our people raised a motion for its independence and that was how the crisis started.”

We’re suffering —Refugees

Dominic Amah one of the refugees who ran into Toso village while outlining some of their challenges told Vanguard that they lacked basic amenities. He emphasized that children and nursing mothers have been plagued with various forms of ailment which has compounded their hardship and sought respite for their suffering. “It has not been easy since we came here especially concerning feeding and access to health facilities. Even to use the toilet is a very big challenge. Children have contracted water borne diseases and are suffering from diarrhea and malaria. Though the local government chairman and members of the community have been assisting us in different ways since we came, but we still need humanitarian gesture from the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and other Non Governmental Organisations”, he pleaded

Another refugee from Furawa subdivision, Polycarp Andy in his submission commended their host community for the help so far but felt disturbed with their growing number weekly. He however allayed fears of putting much pressure on the community with their problems which he believed might degenerate into a humanitarian crisis, thus rendering both the refugees and the community helpless.

He said “some of our brothers who went back to see how the situation was in our villages keep running back as the onslaught was still going on. As at last Saturday, over 15 of our people came into Kpambo-puri in Ussa and more people keep coming into Nigeria every week.

“We have been suffering ever since but at the communities they have been assisting us with food and accommodation, otherwise, starvation would have killed some of us. But we want the government of Nigeria and the world at large to intervene because I am afraid that with our increasing number, the communities harbouring us might run out of resources to care for us and themselves.”

We need help- Community Leader,

LG Chairman

The Community leader of Fikyu village, Ezra Ukwe and chairman of Ussa local government area, Rimamsikwe Hassan told Vanguard that residents of the community were groaning because their humanitarian service had started to take its toll on them. They noted that some of the refugees were living with members of the community who have deployed their meagre resources to take care of the victims. Ukwe then pleaded with government at all levels to assist residents of the community in whatever form to reduce the burden on his subjects.

“Our appeal to the government is to assist us by bringing some relief materials for our visitors to live normal lives like every other member in the community till they return to their country”, he said

The Chairman of Ussa local government area, Rimamsikwe Hassan told Vanguard that the Red Cross had earlier visited some villages to take statistics of the refugees with the promise to return with help which had not come.

Hassan who said the burden was overwhelming disclosed that four communities in his local government were hosting some of the refugees with their number increasing every week.

“The refugees are in Kpambo- piri, Jatau, Kanpiya and Fikyu village, with Fikyu having the least number of about 250 refugees including children as at last count.

“When they (refugees) first moved in, the Nigerian Red Cross society visited some of the villages to take statistics and promised to come back, but ever since they have not returned.

“We have equally written to the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, NCFRMI, but we are yet to get a reply from them.

“We also wrote to the United Nations Refugee Commission and they have replied us but we are yet to see them here and we hope if our story is given publicity and they become aware of what these people are going through here, it will hasten their visit to us here.

“However, the state government through SEMA brought relief materials for the victims, but we also want the Federal government to come in and liaise with the Camerounian authorities.

“The state Commissioner for Health has been here but the refugees still need assistance in terms of medical needs, especially the children, the aged and nursing mothers”


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.