According to a report by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), close to 60,000 Cameroonians have fled their country and headed for Nigeria after protests and call for secession turn violent.
Most of these people took informal paths and braved danger to their lives to become refugees in neighboring Nigeria following a violent crackdown on peaceful protests by Paul Biya led government.
Within the past two weeks alone, about 8,000 people have left Cameroon for Eastern and Southern Nigeria to escape violent clashes between security forces and separatists, says a UN report.
Why are Cameroonians leaving for Nigeria?
In Cameroon, the French-speaking majority holds power, while the minority English-speakers are frustrated with what they perceive as marginalization in their country.
Unfortunately, the government seated in the capital, Yaounde has responded with force. Soldiers have responded to protesters and separatists with force.
Desiring to create a new state called Ambazonia, the English-speaking militias are looking for a breakup.
With the insurgency in Cameroon growing, UN reports have placed the number of people who have fled their homes in Cameroon at over 670,000 since it started in 2017.
The regions witnessing the insurgency are close to Nigeria.
Nigeria welcomes Cameroonian refugees
The UN reports that 82 communities in four Nigerian States have settled close 51,000 refugees before the more recent influx.
More refugees are expected to reach Nigeria as several people within the close border areas of Nigeria could be on their way, says the UN.
The UN statement said many of those feeing Cameroon carry injuries, including gunshot wounds.
“Refugees reported fleeing violence and some even arrived across the border with gunshot wounds,” the statement continued.
“According to new arrivals, most come from areas near the border and have trekked across savannah and forests to reach Nigeria.”
The UNHCR said that refugees in Nigeria are “being sheltered in public schools and health facilities or with local families.”
Cameroon’s Parliament tries to placate separatists
In an effort to pacify the separatists, the Cameroon parliament offered a special status designation to two regions covered by the English-speaking separatists but the offer has been rejected.
The separatists would only accept complete independence from Cameroon.