Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cameroon and the threat of a refugee exodus

 2,000 people have fled southern Cameroon and entered Nigeria over the past two weeks, fallout from renewed oppression of Angolophone Cameroonians in the predominantly French-speaking country, the  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. 
It is now preparing a “very conservative” contingency plan for as many as 40,000 people fleeing Cameroon, Antonio Jose Canhandula, the agency’s representative to Nigeria, told Reuters . “Our fear is that the 40,000 might actually be an understatement in a situation where the conflict might continue,” said Canhandula. Nigeria and Cameroon are already grappling with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, in the Lake Chad region, with over 2 million people displaced after more than eight years of conflict with Islamist insurgency Boko Haram. “Can you imagine having another refugee situation in a country where we are hardly coping with IDPs (internally displaced persons)?” Canhandula said. “Every time you have a refugee situation you have it for several years... Cameroon really has to take the issues that create the feeling of exclusion very seriously,” he said.
A cycle of state repression fuelling separatism has raised concerns after soldiers shot dead at least eight people in the country’s two English-speaking regions on Oct 1. Demonstrations in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions began nearly a year ago when Anglophone lawyers Cameroon’s linguistic divide is a legacy of World War One, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between allied French and British victors.and teachers protested against having to work in French, saying it showed the wider marginalisation of the English-speaking minority. 

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