The influx of thousands of Cameroonians from Southern Cameroon into the country is raising serious humanitarian concerns in Cross River State.
No fewer than 36, 000 refugees are seeking asylum in the state, especially in the Northern Senatorial District, in the wake of the crisis rocking that part of the country.
Food and health crisis is already threatening over 4, 000 refugees and their host communities in Boki Local Council of state, where residents fear that unless urgent steps are taken, Nigeria may witness a huge loss of lives in the affected areas.
When The Guardian visited some of the communities recently, the women and children were looking haggard, malnourished and frustrated.
Recounting their ordeals, they said they were not finding life easy since they became refugees in Bashu Okpambe/Bokim, Bashu Kaku, Abo Bonabe, Obisu, Danare and Okwangwo.
One of the refugees from Kajivo Village in Southwest region of Cameroon, who is taking refuge alongside his family in Bashu Okpambe community, Ojong Steven, said: “I am here with my family of 11 because of the war that happened in Cameroon. The Bashu people are trying their best, but the problem is that, we the Cameroonians are more than the people in the village so we find it difficult to feed and get satisfied.
“At times when they bring food, we normally eat together with our hosts, but the food does not go round. Secondly, I am having issues with my heart and when I was in Cameroon, I used to go for checkup, but now I can’t do that anymore. My children are supposed to go to school, meaning it has affected their education. Two of them were in the university, but now they are all here with me, I don’t know what to do.”
On her part, Mrs. Bamate said, “I have five daughters and they have all stopped going to school. Since I was born, I have never experienced such a thing before. They forced us out of our village and since then we have been staying here. We hardly have food to eat. We sleep on the bare floor coupled with the harsh weather.”
In tears, Magdalene Kekong, who is living in a household with her husband and six children said, “my 18-year-old son is epileptic and needs medical attention.When we were still in our country, I used to take him to the hospital, where he received medical care but since we became refugees here, his situation has become worse because he stopped taking treatment. The worst of it is that the people we are sharing apartment with have threatened to send us parking. I, my husband and six children are all living together in a single room.”
The state government, through the Special Adviser on Aviation Matters, Mr. Amos Kajang, has promised to intervene as quickly as possible to prevent an outbreak of epidemic.
When he visited some of the communities in Boki, Kajang said: “The number that I have come to see is more than what has been reported lately. More than 4, 000 people are here and what I have seen is a direct threat, ecological threat in terms of survival, housing, shelter, health and all related to the livelihoods of the people. I have discovered that in most households, there are about twelve persons in one room and I foresee an outbreak of epidemic if measures are not taken.”
“A few days ago, the state governor had a meeting with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar and he raised issues concerning Bashu, Dana and Okwangwo. He also assured the people that he was going to swing into action to ensure that a swift intervention would be taken and we have assured the people that government will not sleep or rest until something is done,” he added.
According to the village head of Bashu Community, Chief Emmanuel Echam, the community is facing a major problem as the refugees are more in number than the members of the community harboring them.
He appealed to the state government to come to their aid as they no longer have where to sleep, food to eat or medication to take.