Cameroon violence kills 32 as thousands flee
Clashes between fishermen and herders in Cameroon have killed 32 people and forced thousands to flee to neighboring Chad for safety, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said Thursday.
What has been described as the worst intercommunal violence in the country in contemporary times started between Choa Arab herders and Mousgoum fishermen and farmers over agricultural, fisheries and pastoral resources in the Logone Birni district of the Far North region on August 10.
“At least 32 people were killed and 74 injured and 19 villages burned down,” UNHCR said in a statement.
The UN body said Chadian authorities have reported the arrival of 11,000 people fleeing violence to seek refuge in Chad while an additional 7,300 were displaced within the country.
It said about 85 percent of those who have fled to neighboring Chad are women and children, and most of the men are elderly.
"UNHCR calls on the governments concerned to do everything possible to reduce the intercommunal tensions that have caused this displacement and to ensure the safety of people forced to flee," the UN Agency’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Millicent Mutuli said.
The UNHCR said those who have fled to Chad are in urgent need of shelter, especially during the rainy season, explaining that many of them are sleeping under trees while some have found shelter in schools or with host families.
“There is an urgent need for temporary shelter because most of the new arrivals are women and children exposed to a wide-range of protection risks,” UNHCR Deputy Representative in Chad, said Iris Blom was quoted in the statement.
Authorities in Cameroon have since been working on restoring calm and provide assistance to the victims.
Unlike in neighboring Chad and Nigeria, deadly clashes between communities like that of August 10 are relatively rare in Cameroon. The latest however occurred in a region already facing serious security challenges with repeated attacks from Nigerian-based Boko Haram jihadist group. Analysts say the intercommunal violence could complicate the country’s fight against the group.