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The judgment of the Nigeria Federal High Court in Abuja on March 1, 2019, declaring illegal and unconstitutional, the abduction and deportation to Cameroun of the President of the Interim Government of the Southern Cameroons/
Ambazonia Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, members of the Interim Government and several Southern Cameroons refugees carries significant symbolic weight.
The judgment has comprehensively determined the legal status of the abductees which was in controversy since Cameroun characterized them as terrorists on the account of alleged crimes committed against Cameroun from the territory of Nigeria; so, the Isa Tchiroma and the Court-martial alleged.

The Federal High Court of Abuja Nigeria on the territory of which the crimes alleged in the court-martial were allegedly committed has decided that they are persons who were legally in the territory of Nigeria as refugees under the protection of international conventional law at the time of their abduction and deportation. They were not therefore terrorists nor did their presence and activities constitute terrorism to warrant their being characterized as terrorists to warrant abduction and deportation to face a court-martial. Even if they were terrorists, international law still outlawed the abduction and deportation without compliance with the municipal and international rule of law.

This judicial determination settles a key issue in the subsequent case brought against the victims by Cameroun, the state to which they were deported. The failure of the court-martial in Cameroun where the abductees are forcefully subjected over their objections, to take judicial notice of the Judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court will have bilateral relations and multilateral treaty obligations consequences on the two countries, in the short and long term. Nigeria and Cameroun are state parties to the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and its Additional Protocol 1967. Both countries are state parties to the OAU 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa which came into force in 1974.

The refugee problem globally and in Africa is a matter of significant international emergency, if not a humanitarian crisis. Without the existing multilateral treaty regime to manage this humanitarian crisis, millions, of the world’s vulnerable refugee population will be pursued across international boundaries and slaughtered by the murderous regimes and criminal squads from whom they fled in the search for protection. International law mandates state parties to the Refugee Convention to open their frontiers to allow refugees fleeing from wars, genocide, crimes against humanity and other life-threatenin
g conditions to their lives to provide them protection.

International law outlaws the abduction, deportation, rendition or the refoulement of persons who have sought refugee status to the countries from which they fled. Once the status of refugees is sought or obtained, the person concerned becomes a ward of international law under the Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol. State Parties to the Refugee Convention are mandated to ensure compliance and indeed are obligated to submit periodic reports on compliance with their treaty obligations under the convention. Nigeria and Cameroun had a multilateral obligation to ensure that the refugee status of the abductees in Nigeria was respected and protected. Their mandate and responsibility are to the international community, since the 1951 Refugee Convention has near world wide membership.

By engaging in criminal conduct to abduct and deport the victims to face a court-martial that applies the death penalty to Cameroun, Nigeria and Cameroun betrayed, violated and endangered the multilateral treaty regime and a protected international human rights value system.
The Federal High Court Judgment provided an opportunity to Nigeria to explain to the world, the rationale and legality of the abductions.

It is significant that Nigeria did not convince the court that the abduction and deportation was informed by any compellable reasons justifiable in municipal and/or international law. Nigeria did not convince the court of any legally justified reason to violate with impunity the Nigeria Federal Constitution (1969), its multilateral treaty obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol, the African Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Rome Statute. There is no compelling reason to explain why Nigeria mortgaged its reputation, its influence in Africa and its claims to lead and represent Africa as a world power at the UN Security Council to fulfil the dictatorial and criminal proclivities of a regime baying for the blood of millions of Southern Cameroonians. Hundreds of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have been deported by Cameron from their ancestral home which are systematically torched as a deliberate government policy as senior military commanders and civilian government officials have admitted, across the border with Nigeria. The victims who at a great risk of a genocide sought international protections within the territory of Nigeria are living under continuing threat of abduction and assassination, after Nigeria provided support to Cameroun to pursue the commission of international crimes against them in the territory of Nigeria.

The answer as to what endeared President Muhammadu Buhari to place Nigeria at the centre of an unfolding genocide, rather than acting as a facilitator of negotiations and peace may not be answered in this one critical historic judgment. Yet the judgment has the merit of laying an enduring foundation for answers to be provided within the compelling injunction of history. The truth, it is said, will never die with those who thought they could imprison it with sheer political chicanery and stealth transborder corrupt operations. Truth is as stubborn as a rock. Nigeria and Cameroun are aware, and this is important that the underlying cause of the war declared by Paul Biya as a proxy of France, are the resources within the territory of the Southern Cameroons.

These minerals are the umbilical cord to the perennial Nigeria misadventure that has devastated the Niger Delta, its ecosystem, maritime resources, economy and human health. Time will reveal if there are a convergence of economic and hegemonic interests by the known yet, invisible political god fathers enforcing the genocide using Nigeria and Cameroun proxies.

I learnt from my years as a lead counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Lone, in the case of the Revolutionary United from for Sierra Leone (RUF)-Morris Kallon that minerals are the curse of Africa. That is why Central Africa Republic has never been at peace since independence despite its mineral rich capabilities. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one case in point; so also, Burundi where abundant mineral resources have attracted the interest and wrath of neo-colonial economic and natural resource predators.

The bazaar auctioning of the Southern Cameroons at independence as my late friend Dr Bate Besong stated, or the Mc McLeod slave deal, as the father of Ambazonia Fon Gorgi Dinka described it, was intended to silence the liberating ambition of Ambazonia patriots. For the record, the slave and bazaar dealers did not know that Ambassbay from which Ambazonia derived its name, stood watch over the liberating spirit of its Ambazonia offspring. Ambassbay is a natural environment for the sharks in the Ambazonia sea as opposed to the neighbouring sea which is inhabited by “crayfish”.

Those with a good sense of aquatic life know that a shark is not an ordinary fish, surely not a crayfish. And this is where the difference lies.
This judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court conveys an underlying message to the abductors that the abduction of Southern Cameroons leaders and citizens will have consequences that may potentially threaten peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea. That Nigeria has become a key ally of the state actor that declared the war of choice that have the capacity of igniting a conflagration in the Gulf of Guinea affecting its own citizens and interests on both sides of the borders, is a matter of profound concern.

The judgment is a municipal judgment on compliance by Nigeria of its multilateral treaty constitutional obligations. Finding that Nigeria violated its municipal laws and treaty obligations, is an important contribution to international law. This judgment therefore must be served on the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, all the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council through their permanent representations in New York, all ECOWAS state parties through their diplomatic representations in Abuja, the EU state parties present in Brussels, the AU Commission, and give wide publicity.
This judgment negates the charge by Cameroun that the abductees were and are terrorists.

Nigeria did not make this charge before and during the hearing. Nigeria should be concerned that persons found to be refugees by its own judiciary are facing a court-martial based on international and municipal violations of its own government. With this judgment, the blood of the abductees and other Southern Cameroonians will lay on the hands of Nigeria should they be further held in violation of this judgment or should they be executed pursuant to the court-martial.
International law mandates that any offence committed on the territory of Nigeria can be investigated and prosecuted by Nigeria failing which Nigeria can send the refugees to a third country willing to accept them but not to the country from which they fled and sought refuge in Nigeria.

Will Nigeria submit itself to a court-martial in Cameroun to provide evidence of acts alleged in the charges before the court-martial that were allegedly committed in Nigeria? Does Nigeria recognize a court-martial for civilians which is international human rights jurisprudence has characterised as torture and thus illegal? Does Nigeria by the abductions give legal approval to the crime of abduction which criminalised under the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party? Is abduction of civilians not one of the crimes alleged against Boko Haram in which hundreds of thousands of Nigerian civilians have lost their lives? The Abuja High Court trial was an occasion for Nigeria to prove that abduction is legal when conducted by a state actor but illegal when carried out by non-state actors. Nigeria failed to prove this or even convince the court that this crime may be legal under such or other circumstances.

Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari tends to disobey court orders and indeed disobeyed the order of the Federal High Court in Abuja made by Justice Gabriel Kolawole dated December 2, 2016 ordering the release of Ibrahim el Zazaky the leader the Shiite Muslim Movement who was abducted by the DSS on December 13, 2015. The DSS alleged that he was detained at his own request for protection. The Judge was unpersuaded on the grounds that protective custody was unknown to law or National Security Agencies Act establishing the DSS. Since December 29, 2015, Colonel Abubakar Malami former National Security Adviser of President Goodluck Jonathan has remained in jail despite court orders for his release.
However, in a suit brought by a constitutional lawyer Johnmary Jideobi praying the court to void the SAN of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami for professional misconduct for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders, the Attorney General refused being held accountable for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders and that he was not informed about the detentions and so his advice was never sought in the cases. The Attorney General argued in his defence that in cases where his advice was sought, he advised, and the Federal Government complied with court orders. He cited the release on bail of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and that of the survivals of an attack on an uncompleted house in Abuja which was stormed and murdered by some operatives of the National Intelligence Services after the Nigeria Human Rights Commission ordered that victims and their dependents be compensated.
This defence by the attorney therefore begs the questions, if he was never informed how then did, he enters appearance to defend the illegal actions of the Nigeria Government?

Africa, and African leaders should hail the Judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Abuja and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to execute it without delay. This judgment protects the municipal and international protections of refugees afforded by multilateral treaties and municipal constitutional provisions. The international multilateral treaty regime has been tested and proved to be critical in checking the excesses and exactions of the world refugee crisis and the humanitarian calamity that is rocking the conscience of humanity. In their imposed inhuman dungeons Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and the Ambazonia abductees represent the face of humanity at risk. This judgment protects that human value represented by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe.

African leaders and the international community should applaud this judgment and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to obey and execute it.

This judgment should be a shock reminder to everyone, the powerful and the weak, that a refugee is a protected ward of humanity and the legal regimes emplaced to protect him or her attest to this fact. Abducting and deporting refugees to be court-martialled or placing them in harm’s way tantamount to driving a sword on the collective conscience of humanity. This should not be allowed to happen without consequences.
I have a message for those responsible for the abduction and court-martial of civilian victims.

Respecting this judgment may be the only opportunity for them to avoid placing their own poisoned chalices to their own lips. Babatoura Ahmadou with the use of terror pursued nationalists who sought refuge in foreign lands but died a refugee himself in solitude in distant Senegal. The refugee status he imposed on others and pursued, abducted and killed or assassinated them was the status that protected and sustained him until he died. In 1968, Joseph Desire Mobutu otherwise called Mobutu Sese Seko lured and murdered Pierre Mulele over strong world-wide appeals and condemnation. Mobutu died a miserable refugee in Morocco.

The extensive empire he acquired through, murder, looting and plundering the mineral resources of his country are in ruins. The blood of the thousands he slaughtered to keep himself in eternal power still haunts the memory of him. His countrymen and women are even traumatised turning his extensive empire into the memorial for his innocent victims.
This recorded history may already have extended a hand of invitation to the actors in the theatre of criminality and violations that the Federal High Court High Court in Abuja addressed in this judgment.

Whether they will on their own volition abide by this judgment, is not known to me. However, this judgment is addressed to the collective conscience of Humanity represented by the multilateral treaty regime which the court found was violated. The multilateral treaty regime must demonstrate that it has teeth and that it must not condone or encourage the impunity of state violators of their treaty obligations, lest it wrongly encourages non-state actors. Nigeria itself has a refugee problem in far and distant lands, including Cameroun. It will be unfortunate if Nigerians allow their government to determine their fate through the legitimisation of the violations found in this judgment.

I wish to conclude by addressing a few words to Ambazonians who should be strategizing on how to rely on this judgment to highlight their predicament worldwide where ever they find themselves.

I am appalled by how much social media activism and sideshows are distracting them from following the rapidly evolving events that may determine their fate yet again while they are asleep or self-destructing in search of power. While internal squabbles must be addressed, that cannot override rallying behind the Interim Government that instructed the lawyers working on this and other cases to raise the profile of the cases to the highest levers of international intervention.

While not trivialising the complaints or matters which some components of the struggle may hold dear to their hearts, and I will not and never get involved in such squabbles, I strongly advise all Ambazonians, to henceforth recognize that the Abuja abduction of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others and their deportation to Cameroun requires a strong international legal intervention. It is a crime against the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party. The unwritten underpinning of the Judgment indeed has this implication. It has violated the UN multilateral treaty regime and that of the AU.

Social media activism alone will not get this judgment executed, enforced. It will not rely on the judgment to pursue all international crimes and violations in which hundreds and thousands of civilians are systematically exterminated and civilian settlements, places of worships and hospitals are torched and reduced to rubbles. It is therefore advisable to support the IG to move quickly to fulfil these tasks while other weighty issues are internally reviewed and quickly redressed without the intension of rocking the boat for the sake of power.

Protracted disagreement empowers adversaries. Clearly established areas of agreement should be identified, and prioritised and collective action sought to attain the position outcomes while perennial disagreements struggle for institutional solutions. What cannot wait even for a minute are contributions intended for the collective good, the protection of victims, refugees, vulnerable categories and preventive and protective strategies.

Author: Chief Charles A. Taku

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Ongoing violence in the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon continues.  A refugee crisis threatens. The United Nations (UN) refugee agency reported more than 32 000 Cameroonians crossed into Nigeria as refugees. The Daily Vox team takes a closer look.

Cameroon Refugee Crisis

The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have reported that intensified violence has led displacement.  There has been a displacement of more than 437 500 people within Cameroon.  More people fled into Nigeria where they are staying in refugee camps in Cross River State.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) built a refugee settlement in August 2018. By December 2018 it held more than 6 400 refugees.

In a report compiled by MSF, they spoke to refugees in the camp. Lydia Ochin from Akwaya, Cameroon said: “I escaped from my country in October 2017. I have lived with my family, my husband, and my children, in Adagom refugee camp since August 2018. Life in the camp is not easy. I live here with my husband, who is sick with tuberculosis, and my children. Eight people living inside a small tent. Now that my health is getting better, the biggest challenge is food. We do not have money to buy food on our own and all we eat is the rice that is given to us.”

In the area, the MSF Cross River project operates six mobile clinics for the host and refugee community. The organisation dug boreholes and repaired handpumps to provide water for the communities.

Civil society response

In February 2019, faith and civil society organisations like the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Denis Hurley Peace Institute will deliver a letter to the 40th session of the UNHCR. The letter demands UN members states investigate allegations of human rights violations in Ambazonia. At the same when the letter is delivered to the UN, press briefings are to be held in Geneva, New York, and Johannesburg.

There are daily reports on social media about alleged violence in the region. “The UN HRC has the power to cultivate the conditions for peace,” said the Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. “We strongly believe that a UN HRC-mandated fact-finding mission would have the immediate effect of quelling violence and saving lives.”

What has been happening

Conflict in Cameroon stemming from the calls for independence in South Cameroons began in 2016. The people of Southern Cameroon (Ambazonia) have demanded the right to determine whether they want to remain in a union with Cameroon or restore the independence of Southern Cameroons as a sovereign state.

Those calls led to a violent crackdown by President Paul Biya’s Francophone government on the Anglophone population of Southern Cameroon. In 2017 there was an internet shutdown to prevent mass mobilisations against the government and many people were killed by the security forces during protests. There were arbitrary arrests with people detained in already overflowing jails.

Biya won his seventh term in October 2018. The elections were marred by low turnout, especially in the Anglophone zones. He has been in power since 1982. The constitution was changed in 2008 which removed term limits which would allow him to rule for even longer.

During a 2017 march by the Southern Cameroons community living in South Africa, Milton Taka, a spokesperson for the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front said: “Only the Ambazonian flag will fly all over our land. Our people are taking their power back. From today we declare self-rule. Self-determination is an inalienable right and nobody will take that from us.”

Increased humanitarian crisis

There have been all around calls for an increase in attention for Cameroon. Both the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Cameroon, Ms. Allegra Baiocchi, and Cameroon’s Civil Protection Director, Ms. Yap Mariatou warned about the increased need for humanitarian assistance due to the Francophone-Anglophone conflict.

“Cameroon today can no longer be a forgotten crisis; it needs to be high on the United Nations agenda” Mariatou said. The UN estimates that around 4.3 million people in Cameroon requires lifesaving assistance. This is one in six people and mostly women and children.

Refugee crisis: Nigeria

There has been a cross fleeing of people. Nigerian people fleeing to Cameroon from the northern Borno state it’s been reported in January 2019. They are fleeing increasing Boko Haram militant attacks.  Reportedly there was a displacement of 30 000 people after a deadly attack that happened on January 14. There have been calls for the Cameroonian government to accept the refugees into the country. This all happens against the backdrop of the violence the Cameroonian government in enacting against its Anglophone-speaking citizens.

Author: Fatima Moosa

Source: thedailyvox.co.za

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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, has published a new report on the crisis situation in Cameroon’s North West and South West regions.

The report produced in collaboration with humanitarian partners like WFP, UNICEF, WHO and UNHCR, reveals that at least Four Million people are affected, 1.3M People in need, 160,000 People targeted, 437,500 Internally displaced, 500,000 People in need in host communities and 330,000 Other people in need.

Going by the report, the proliferation of armed groups and deployment of defense forces, has shifted the crisis into armed conflict.

It states that more than 1,200 cases of civilian protection rights violations have been registered, mainly involving physical abuse or threats, and lack of legal protection. The report recounts how insecurity and violence have forced more than 400,000 people to flee their homes, most of whom continue to have serious consequences on livelihoods and living conditions.

Regarding the health situation, the report indicates that many of the conflict-hit population are suffering severe emotional stress. About 3,700 unaccompanied or separated children need urgent assistance and psycho-social care. It equally states that more than 40 per cent of clinics and health centres no longer provide vaccinations, less than 15 per cent of births are assisted by skilled attendants.

In response the OCHA report reveals that an Emergency response plan has been developed in May 2018 targeting 160,000 people. Eight clusters have been activated in October. By the end of 2018, the plan was only 40% per cent funded. Going by the report, the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Cameroon is being finalised. Planning workshops were held in Buea and Bamenda to ensure appropriate reflection of the crisis in the North-West and South-West in the national level plan

It would be recalled that in December, WFP provided food for 29,000 IDPs in Meme division in South-West region, the first large-scale distribution since the crisis erupted.

Source: journalducameroun


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A ray of hope shone for widows and refugees of Ambazonian extraction when Belinda Babila Foundation reached out to them at a refugee camp located in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State during the Yuletide season.

Founder of the foundation, Dr. Belinda Babila said it was a very touching experience to reach out to the widows.

“Speaking to the refugees one-on-one was quite touching. We visited the Cameroonian refugees at the Adagom Settlement in Ogoja LGA, Cross Rivers State, and we had a three-day empowerment outreach”, she noted.

According to the US-based philanthropist, “we are planning self-sustenance empowerment programmes for the over 8000 refugees. I am most grateful to all the donors and partners who contributed towards the just concluded refugees outreach campaign at Adagom Settlement in Ogoja, Nigeria. However, funding is one of our major challenges.”

Among others, over 200 patients got referrals for further evaluation while school uniforms were handed to school children.

Hygiene packs were also handed out to teenagers. A huge quantity of medical supplies was donated by Rhemacare Clinic.

Ambazonia is a self-declared state consisting of the Anglophone portions of Cameroon, which previously comprised South Camerouns.

In 2017, the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front (SCACUF) declared independence but the Cameroonian government stated that the declaration has no legal weight and this has culminated in a refugee crisis that has displaced thousands of Ambazonians.

Author: Mary Nnah

Source: thisdaylive

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What began as a civil protest by some disgruntled English-speaking lawyers, teachers, and students from Southern Cameroons, against the marginalization of the French-speaking majority in 2016, is now gradually degenerating into a brutal civil war. Since President Paul Biya declared war on the secessionists after they attacked and killed two policemen in 2017, villages have been burnt down, thousands of people have fled their homes and more than 40,000 have fled to Nigeria as refugees according to the United Nations. In fact, there are even allegations of genocide in the region.

In the light of this situation as well as the following reasons, Nigeria has a duty to rescue the Southern Cameroonians from the claws of Paul Biya before he sends them into geographic extinction.

First, Southern Cameroonians were formerly Nigerians until the plebiscite of 1961 allowed them to join Cameroon. Despite this, they have been grossly marginalized and treated as minorities by the Francophone government in Yaounde. Hence, the reason for their agitation. There is nothing wrong if Nigeria supports Southern Cameroons in their quest for freedom since they share historical and cultural relationships.

Second, if Nigeria does not help Southern Cameroons broker peace, the spillover effects of a potential civil war will definitely affect the former. Currently, over 40,000 Cameroonian refugees are in Nigeria. The number may increase if Nigeria keeps folding her hands and watch as the Biya led government continues to lay siege on Southern Cameroons.

Third, if not anything but good neighbourliness. Africa has always been the centrepiece of Nigerian foreign policy. Since Nigeria became independent, she has helped many African countries through her good neighbourliness policy.

The anti-apartheid black movement in South Africa readily comes to mind as one of the examples of Nigeria good neighbourliness gesture. Hence, Nigeria must extend this gesture towards the Southern Cameroonians, especially as they were formerly Nigerians.

Fourth, Nigeria stands a chance of reclaiming the Bakassi Peninsula if she supports Southern Cameroons. On August 14, 2008, Nigeria handed over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in the latter’s favour. Before then, Nigeria and Cameroon had disputed over the ownership of the land. If Nigeria helps Southern Cameroon actualize her independence dream, she can revisit the Green Tree Agreement.

Fifth, genocide and state-sponsored terrorism are not acceptable in the post-Westphalia order. From reports, it is as if the war against secessionists has turned out to be a genocide and state-sponsored terrorism against the Anglophone Cameroonians, given how villages have been burnt down, and how about 160,000 thousands of people have been displaced from their homes.

If this is the case, the post-Westphalia order strictly forbids state-sponsored terrorism and genocide in Southern Cameroons and elsewhere. In fact, they could be strong reasons for the superpowers to invade Cameroon. But while it is as if the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is asleep over the conflict, Nigeria can assist Southern Cameroons on humanitarian grounds. No country will chide Nigeria for this, knowing full well that the post-Westphalia order prioritizes humanitarian concern over a country’s sovereignty.

Nigeria will be the one to bear the brunt at the end of the day if war erupts in Cameroon. The number of refugees that she would have to host both in the south and north is unimaginable, a big threat to her security and resources. In order to avoid this, she must act fast either through the initiation of dialogue or openly declare support for Southern Cameroons.

Author: Ibitoye Olukosi

Source: qwenu.com

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The number of internally displaced persons as a result of the crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon has increased according to the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA.

In a detailed reports released on Thursday December 20, the CHRDA said there was an upsurge of internally displaced persons as well as bunrt down settlements as a result of the persisting crisis.

About 274,908 are internally displaced in the North West region while 278,867 are displaced in the South West making it a 74% increase from the last census, the CHRDA.

The Centre also added that 113 out of the 170 settlements have beeen severely affected and called on the government to accelerate its humanitarian asssistance prrogramme to the Internally displaced persons while seeking for urgent solutions to end the crisis.

This report addds to that of the Norwegian Refugee Council which raised programme similar alarm at the start of the week and called for urgent and assistance humanitarian assistance.

Source: journalducameroun

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The number of people displaced as a result of the crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions has spiked to more than 430,000 during the last months. Many people are hiding in the bush with no support, warns the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“We are deeply worried by the ongoing conflict and the increasing displacement figures. Parties to the conflict must ensure that civilians in the area are protected and are able to safely access life-saving assistance,” said David Manan, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Cameroon.

The number of people displaced from their homes in Cameroon’s Anglophone Southwest and Northwest regions and in neighbouring Littoral and West regions has reached 437.000, according to the latest UN estimates.

NRC is assisting people displaced by this crisis. However, many people are left without any support, as insecurity is hindering organisations from accessing many areas. People are without proper shelter and sanitation facilities, clean water, food and access to medical care.

“The needs we are witnessing in the Southwest and Northwest regions are alarming and there are too few agencies on the ground to provide the necessary aid due to limited funding. We call for more donors to prioritise this crisis to allow more agencies to respond so that we can stem the rising tide of suffering and displacement,” said Manan.

“Displaced families who receive our assistance have told us that they share it or give it to their relatives who did not yet receive any assistance and desperately need help. Many people are hiding in the bush with no support, fearing for their lives,” added Manan.

“This is the first time I am being helped since I fled,” said Annoh, who received essential household items, including materials to build a shelter. “I will share what I have received with my husband who is hiding in the bush. He has nothing but the clothes he was wearing when he fled,” she added.

NRC is distributing household items, shelter and hygiene kits in Northwest and Southwest regions with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

Source: nrc.no

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The Embassy of the United States of America in Cameroon has once again warned its citizens to avoid the troubled English-speaking regions of the country where security forces have been clashing with armed separatist fighters.

The conflict that has left several persons internally displaces and many fleeing to neighboring Nigeria as many persons have equally lost their lives.

“The level of violence in the Southwest and Northwest Regions continues to increase.   In recent weeks, U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes in both regions. Due to the violence, many medical facilities in these areas are reported to be closed, inaccessible, or severely understaffed,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

“All but mission-essential travel by U.S. Embassy personnel to these regions is prohibited:  our ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these areas is extremely limited,” the statement added.

The US Embassy in Cameroon had equally cautioned its citizens to take various security measures when moving around in the capital Yaounde following news of waves of mass arrests conducted by security forces.

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Source: journalducameroun.com

 

Over 30,000 Southern Cameroonians are currently in asylum in Nigeria — they are located in Cross River, Benue and Taraba states. Many more are still coming as the government of President Paul Biya clamps down on Southern Cameroon dissidents who are agitating for Ambazonia Republic. In Nigeria where those who fled the country are seeking asylum, they have not found solace as they live in constant fear of arrest, extortion and deportation as revealed in this report. 

Living on the edge

AKUME Joshua has mixed feelings about the safety of his family in Nigeria despite running away from President Paul Biya’s troops on December 18, 2017.

In Calabar, Cross River State where he lives in the asylum with his wife and son, the fear of an imminent arrest and repatriation to Cameroon hunts him every night. A supermarket owner back in Southern Cameroon, Joshua lost his grocery store to the crisis and now go for a scrounge in Nigeria.

Since October 1, 2017, when fighting broke out in the Anglophone Cameroon, where the English speaking minority declared independence from Francophone Cameroon, under the name Ambazonia Republic, more and more Southern Cameroonians have fled the country, seeking asylum in Nigeria.

Roughly 20 per cent of the country’s population of 24.6 million people are Anglophone.

Attacks and raids on villages in Southern Cameroon by government armies have intensified since after election when 85-year-old President Paul Biya won another re-election—his seventh term in office.

There has been an air of uncertainty among the people. On June 10, when refugees filed out for food distribution at Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) office in Calabar,  a letter from the Cameroon Consular addressed the director general of the agency asking that the refugees be arrested because they are not refugees but terrorists, and should be arrested and send back to Cameroon. “When this information got to us we were afraid, there was panic among us,” he says.

This has kept Joshua and his countrymen in constant fear. The matter became worse when Nigerian security operatives restricted the movement of refugees within the country despite an Identity Card issued by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Refugees, he says, are now veritable means of extortion for the security operatives.

“Freedom of movement of refugees has been a problem- we can’t move from town to town freely. Even with your yellow card, certificate of asylum issued by the National Commission for Refugees they still stop them and tell them that they are not supposed to move within the country. Most time they extort money from them – sometimes, people pay as much as N30, 000,” he says.

A Protection Officer at UNHCR office in Calabar who admitted there have been reports of such arrests and extortion says that the agency is holding series of meetings with the police authorities, Immigration and the Nigerian Army “so that they can recognize the ID card issued by the Refugee Commission.”

“I just had a meeting with the State Commissioner of Police on those matters and we are also working with the Immigration and the Army over it,” he said.

The allegation is not a one-off experience—seven Southern Cameroonians who just escaped into Calabar were arrested by men of 13 Brigade of Nigerian Army. But for the intervention of the Refugee Agency they were released, Joshua said.

He says the seven were suspected to be Anglophone combatants, “because of their dressings.”

“The clothes they wearing were not very clean because they had travelled the bush for fear. When they got here, they didn’t have any other dress to change, they were looking dirty and they came in a group, so they thought they were combatant.”

Also, they allege that men of Nigerian Immigration Service also declined to recognize the Identity Card issued by the Refugee Commission.

“The Immigration intimidates us most often, they claim not to recognize us, sometimes we have to call the UNHCR staff,” Ako Albor, Vice Chairman of Southern Cameroonian Refugees in Adagom Refugees Resettlement, Ogoja Local Government says.

But the refugees are unhappy that their plights have not received the attention it deserved from the international community and the media. Quite frankly too, talks about the crisis between Francophone and Anglophone Cameroons that has displaced more than 160,000 within Cameroon since 2016 have not gained prominence among world leaders.

Leaders of Southern Cameroonian refugees in Ogoja, Cross River State.
Photo Credit: YEKEEN Akinwale

Albor, a French- English Translator from Manyu Division of Southern Cameroon wonders why “nobody in the international community is talking about their plights.”

“I think Paul Biya has a very strong Mafia among the AU and they are doing everything in his favour.”

According to him, the recent victory of Paul Biya in the general election dashed their hope of any quick resolution of the crisis.

“We thought the opposition would win the election because that would have offered some hope of dialogue and perhaps a settlement.”

The return of Biya has led to more clamp down in the country− his immediate actions show that he is not working towards any immediate resolution, Albor says.

“Last night, a journalist was arrested and those that are in detention, we don’t know what he plans to do with them.”

As the world keeps mum about the crisis, international media also appears to be looking the other side from the civil war. Ignatius Mezam, a teacher in Southern Cameroon laments that international media such as the Cable Network News (CNN) and Aljazeera have not given their crisis the required attention.

“When you look at other revolutions going on across the world, they are prominent in the news, but you don’t hear about Southern Cameroon issue,” Mezam says.

“The CNN, Aljazeera have not given it prominence in their reportage, is it because we are black. The battle is only fought on the Facebook by Facebook warriors.”

Over 30,000 Southern Cameroonians currently in Nigeria- figures still growing

On a daily basis, the population of Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria keeps increasing, Tunde Akinsanya, Calabar Zonal Director, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Person revealed.

The Commission registers refugees and issues them Identity Card, Onasanya says, and “the refugees keep coming as the crisis continues.”

Many more are running away from their homes as government forces keep arresting dissidents and setting villages ablaze especially after the election.

Data obtained from the office of UNHCR revealed that there were 23,620 refugees as of October 31 in Cross River State. Of these figures, 10,386 of them were male while 13,234 were female. While there were 333 births since January, the number of children among the refugees stood at 11,514.

By the middle of October, there were about 28,000 of the refugees registered by the Nigerian National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

However, as of early November, a top staff of the UNHCR who would not want his name mentioned revealed that the figured has gone up to 30,000.

Of the over 30,000 refugees, 5000 of them are currently at Adag0m Settlement in Ogoja and over 60 per cent of them are of school-age children- many of the children are those separated and unaccompanied. Those identified are kept with foster parents in the settlement, a UNHCR says.

“We have close to 28,000 registered refugees,” an official of the Nigerian Refugee Commission said, “but the registration is ongoing if we give you a figure today it may increase tomorrow.”

“This is not necessarily the true reflection of incoming, they are still coming. There are some who do come and do not report here but just settle in the nearby village,” says the official who also pleaded for anonymity.

We have been receiving people in terms of surge of refugees who keep coming to Nigeria, says a UNHCR Protection Officer in Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State.

When will this end? Osany Juliet has been living in perpetual depression since gendarmes in 2017 killed her father and arrested her husband — he is kept in a prison in Buea, Cameroon.

October 7, 2017 —exactly 3 pm, a helicopter loaded with government troops landed in Daddi village in Akwaya, Manyu division, everyone in sight was shot at and killed, recalls Juliet, a mother of two.

Some days, she wonders if she will ever see her husband again, or if her life will ever remain the same without him. “Right now, I don’t know how he is doing, I know that the situation with him is not an easy one,” she says with wet eyes.

“My husband was arrested by the gendarmes on his way from the farm because he didn’t know what was happening in the village.”

On other days, she feels terrified by the memories of what has happened in her village and again, the recurring fears that the government may come after those of them under asylum in Nigeria

She is in Calabar where she hopes that life can again be better for her— though Juliet admits coping has been somewhat herculean with two kids and an elderly mother to cater for.

“Please if there is any way you can help me, please you do,” she appealed to the reporter.

Like Juliet, life is becoming more hopeless for Abunaw Lucy and her four kids. A look of anguish sweeps across her face at the thought of the fate of her husband whose whereabouts is unknown after he escaped arrest by government troops on June 9, 2017.

After two arrests and two detentions with her six-week-old baby, she escaped through a forest to Nigeria via Ikom, Cross River State.

Each time she was detained, Lucy spent between five and 10 hours in detention for two days when her husband could not be located. “I was arrested and detained for two days,” she says, “I wasn’t thrown into the cell because of the baby,” “I was kept on the veranda for two days under harsh conditions.”

Her baby ended up with a respiratory infection after those two days spent at the military detention facility. The couples and their children were living in Manfe, in Manyu, South West Region, but  Abunaw David, was on the targets list of the government for his involvement in the struggle for independence.

David was the spokesperson for Justice Ayah Paul Abine− a presidential candidate of the opposition party, People’s Action Party in 2011−arrested January 21, 2017, by gendarmes on an allegation of hostility against the nation.

But the mother of four is still uncomfortable despite being in Nigeria because, according to many Southern Cameroonian refugees, the Cameroonian Consular in Nigeria has designated them terrorists who should be handed over to the Cameroonian authority. There are claims of arbitrary arrests of refugees by Cameroonian forces. Every day, she wakes up with the fear of a possible arrest and extradition by Cameroonian government.

“I’m still afraid to attend meetings or interact for a long time and the fact that Cameroon Consular office is in Calabar which I know and convinced they are working with Cameroon government scares me more.”

“They may be sending spies to monitor refugees’ movement and activities so that they can arrest and extradite us,” she says as her voices cracks with fear.

Tears and hopelessnessAfter sleeping on a mat throughout the period of her pregnancy, 23-year-old Ata Jennifer − a Southern Cameroonian − finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy sometime mid-October at a hospital in Ogoja Local Government. “I slept on the mat until I gave birth,” she says.

With a three-week-old baby in a Refugee Settlement in Adagom, Ogoja and among  5,000 Southern Cameroonians being settled at the camp −the crisis back home casts a bleak shadow over her future and that of her newborn.

For her, it was by providence that she gave birth to a healthy baby without complications− at the moment, most pregnant women among the refugees did not have access to an ante-natal clinic during pregnancy –and living conditions at the settlement made the prospect of any easy delivery doubtful.

But Jennifer was lucky; she and her baby are healthy, though help from the United Agency for Refugee, UNHCR did not get to her when she was in labour pains and eventually delivered of a baby at a hospital.

She couldn’t get a mattress from the agency, because, “mattress is given based on the family size,” an official of the UNHCR said. “It’s one mattress per a family of five and below, the rest are mats.”

With her baby and her younger sister, she shares a tent furnished with a mat and a blanket. Her shelter is among the 140 just constructed by UNHCR.

The young mother was writing a final Advanced Level examination to proceed to the university when she and her family fled their home.

After a perilous journey through forest and river, Jennifer in early stage pregnancy made it to Nigeria on November 17, 2017 – her father was not so lucky— he died in the forest of shock — the second day of their escape from home. With the help of fishermen, she alongside her mother and sister sailed safely to Nigeria. “It was very critical running with pregnancy, but I had to manage because there was no option,” she said of her ordeals running to Nigeria particularly with pregnancy.

“We had to run to the bush at that night. We slept there that night. Four of us, my father, mum and my sister- it was heavily raining. The next day we tried running to cross the border area but we could not make it. I was pregnant then. The next day, I lost my father.”

Suckling her three-week-old son in front of a temporary shelter provided by the UNHCR, Jennifer speaks of how her father was declared wanted by the Biya-led government and how critical it was for her running with pregnancy from the gendarmes.

At Umojok in Southern Cameroon, her father was accused by the Francophone Cameroonian government of fortifying young boys with a local gun proof called “Odeshi.”

Amidst sobs, she says the accusation against her late father was unfounded.

“Odeshi is a secret cult whereby boys put marks on their body, it is called gun proof. That was what I heard which was a lie; my father did not do such a thing,” the 23-year-old Jennifer said.

For her and her baby, surviving in a refugee camp has been very challenging. Often, passersby offer her money to eat and take care of her baby because the relief package from the Refugee Agency did not get to her.

At Adagom, there were 15 deliveries in the last two months, but some of the babies died, during after delivery due to poor health care services at the settlement, says Albor who lives at the settlement.

There are other new arrivals who are pregnant and without tents yet. “They sleep in the hall and they eventually deliver, we have some cases of them. They are forced to sleep on the floor together with their newborn babies,”Albor says.

Birthrate at the settlement is overwhelming the refugee Agency−it has stopped distribution of baby kits to nursing mothers because there is a shortfall in the supply. The leadership of the refugees revealed that the Agency no longer distribute baby needs to nursing mothers in the settlement.

“When a woman is pregnant, they no longer care to say take these baby kits, not even one single thing.”

“It’s something I cannot actually explain, but when we questioned them, they said, the provision is not there and sometimes, they said the birth rate is too high, they don’t encourage such situation within the settlement.”

Save the children, an organization that focuses on child Protection, child poverty, education, health (WASH) & nutrition), was involved in the provision of baby kits for pregnant women and nursing mothers among the refugees−but has not resumed such gesture since refugees moved to Adagan Settlement in Ogoja. What was provided by the Southern Cameroonians in the Diaspora at the inception of the settlement is also exhausted.

Author:  

Source: icirnigeria.org

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The Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria have accused the international community and the African Union (AU) of not doing enough to proffer political solution to the crisis going on between Anglophone Cameroon and the Francophone side led by President Paul Biya.

The aggrieved refugees also carpeted international media for under-reporting their plights since October 1, 2017, when a crisis erupted between the Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon after the formerly declared independence.

Ako Albor, Vice Chairman of Southern Cameroonian Refugees in Adagan Refugees Resettlement, Ogoja, Cross River State, lamented that the international community has been ‘dormant’ on their matter.

Albor, French- English Translator from Manyu Division of Southern Cameroon wondered why “nobody in the international community is talking about their plights.”

“I think Paul Biya has a very strong Mafia among the AU and they are doing everything in his favour.”

He said that AU, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and other countries were supposed to be the first stakeholders in their matter but have done little or nothing to resolve the crisis.

Nigeria government should do more in resolving the crisis, Albor said, “Nigeria and Southern Cameroon people have a long history together. Nigeria cannot be indifferent in this case.”

He said Nigeria should be the first to stand openly with Southern Cameroons, adding that Nigeria should not shy away from speaking the truth.

According to him, the recent victory of Paul Biya in the general election dashed their hope of any quick resolution of the crisis.

“We thought the opposition would win the election because that would have offered some hope of dialogue and perhaps a settlement.”

The return of Biya has led to more clamp down in the country− his immediate actions show that he is not working towards any immediate resolution, Albor said.

“Last night, a journalist was arrested and those that are in detention, we don’t know what he plans to do with them.”

Ignatius Mezam, a teacher in Southern Cameroon lamented that international media such as the Cable Network News (CNN) and Aljazeera have not given their crisis the required attention.

“When you look at other revolutions going on across the world, they are prominent in the news, but you don’t hear about Southern Cameroon issue,” Mezam said.

“The CNN, Aljazeera have not given it prominence in their reportage, is it because we are black. The battle is only fought on the Facebook by Facebook warriors.”

War broke out between Biya-led government and Southern Cameroonians after the latter on October 1, 2017, though a minority, declared independence under the name Ambazonia Republic.

Tens of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have fled the country in the wake of the clampdown by the Francophone Cameroonian government.

Over 30,000 of them are currently under asylum in Nigeria− Cross River, Benue and Taraba state, according to National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and UNHCR.

Source: icirnigeria.org

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