Nigeria News

Over 400 Nigerian Victims of CAR Crisis Trapped in Cameroun

Over 400 Nigerians victims of the lingering crisis in the  Central African Republic (CAR)  were  said to be trapped in Kentzou town in eastern Cameroun and want to be brought back home.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees had earlier said over 9,000 people, including  Nigerians, had fled to Cameroun in the last 10 days to escape violence in the country.
Speaking in a telephone chat with journalists in Yola, Muhammadu Musdafa, one of the victims, revealed that over 400 Nigerians were trapped in Kentzou town of Detua province in Cameroun.
He, however, called on the Nigerian government to come to their rescue and take them back home, following their present living condition in the area.
Musdafa noted that they would stand a high risk of cholera and other public health risk if nothing was done quickly by the federal government to bring them back home.
“Our living conditions here are precarious. We are either hosted by impoverished local families or living in mosques, stadium or in the streets, ’ Musdafa said, adding that: “Most countries have now decided as a precaution to bring home their citizens.”
Another victim, Mr. Dauda, said they fled because of confrontations between the former Seleka and anti-Balaka militia in the CAR’s capital, Bangui.
He said the crisis has escalated to other towns in the North-west region such as Bour, Baboua, Beloko and Cantonnier and they have no other option than to escape to Cameroun.
Dauda explained that some Nigerians  also fled from intense fighting in the areas of Berberati, Carnot, Baoro and Gambala, while others fled because of fear that the anti-Balaka militia were advancing towards their areas.
Another female fleeing Nigerian who does not want her name mentioned, said they had also approached various authorities in Cameroun to assist as refugees were mainly women and children.
‘’They include pregnant women and over 50 people living with disability and in need of special attention,’’ she said.
According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), almost 840,000 people have been displaced inside CAR, with no immediate prospect for their return.
A statement issued by the UNHCR spokesperson, Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, in Geneva said 8,762 people of various nationalities had crossed into the town of Kentzou in eastern Cameroun.
According to the UNHCR spokesperson, the number of new arrivals who have crossed into eastern Cameroun, are  4,764 Central Africans, 3,424 Chadians, 1,497 Cameroonians and 10 Malians.
“This brings the number of CAR refugees in Cameroon to more than 20,000 since the crisis in that country began.”
The UN agency has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis as the rainy season begins, as there is a high risk of cholera and other public health issues.
It could be recalled that on February 1, Nigeria pledged $1.5 million at an international donor summit at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to support African-led International Mission in the Central African Republic.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed, announced the pledge as 60 nations came together to raise money for the crisis-stricken country.
By January 6, the federal government had evacuated a total of 1,424 Nigerians who took refuge at the Nigerian Embassy in Bangui.
Commenting on the issue, the North-east zonal coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA),Muhammad Kanar, who spoke for the Director General of the agency, Alhaji Mohammad Sani-Sidi, said  evacuation would resume if more Nigerians appeared.
In the meantime, the Nigerian Embassy in Bangui said more than 1,596 Nigerians living in the crisis-ridden CAR would be evacuated by the federal government.
The First Consul of the embassy, Mr Solomon Obono, said the embassy worked very hard to ensure the safety of 1, 596 Nigerians, who took refuge in the embassy. He stressed that the embassy ensured that the citizens were taken care of prior to their evacuation.
“We informed the federal government to arrange for their evacuation.
“The evacuation has already started, as the first batch of our citizens departed for Nigeria on Friday,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Lt Col. Ezindu Idimah, who represented the Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said the involvement of the Defence Headquarters followed a presidential directive that it should, in concert with other agencies, carry out the evacuation.
Idimah said the Defence Headquarters was collaborating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NEMA  and other government agencies in the exercise.
“The Defence Headquarters, in addition to providing financial assistance, has also provided a Nigerian Air Force aircraft, a medical team and personnel to assist in the exercise,’’ he said.
So far, 831 Nigerians have been airlifted home. The evacuation became necessary following the crisis which erupted after the ousting of President Francois Bozize from power.

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