Intercommunal clashes that erupted in Cameroon’s Far North region in the past two weeks have driven at least 100,000 people from their homes, although the real number may be much higher, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said today.
UNHCR estimates that more than 85,000 people have fled into neighboring Chad in recent days, while at least 15,000 Cameroonians have been forced from home inside their country. Since humanitarian access in the area is very limited, these totals may be much higher.
“Indications points to displacement into Chad have accelerated fast, as the total is nearly triple the figure reported last week, when 30,000 people had crossed the border seeking safety,” said UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh.
According to UN figures, casualties from the fighting have also risen to 44 people killed and 111 injured, compared to 22 dead and 30 wounded reported last week. In total, 112 villages were burned down.
The vast majority of new arrivals in Chad are children, and 98 per cent of the adults are women. Some 48,000 have found refuge in 18 urban sites in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, and 37,000 people are scattered across 10 rural sites along Chad’s bank of the Logone River.
Along with the authorities, UNHCR, other UN agencies and humanitarian partners are rushing to deliver life-saving assistance. The agency has declared a Level 2 emergency and is rapidly scaling its operations to assist affected people in Cameroon and new refugees in Chad.
Refugees are in dire need of shelter, blankets, mats and hygienic kits. Some are being generously hosted by local communities, but most are still sleeping in the open and under trees.