STORY: CAMEROON / NIGERIAN REFUGEES
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / FRENCH / LOCAL LANGUAGE / NATS
DATELINE: 01 FEBRUARY 2019, GOURA, CAMEROON
1. Various shots, refugees coming in, carrying their belongings
2. SOUNDBITE (French) Jean-Sebastien Munie, Head of Sub-Office in Maroua, OCHA:
“We are facing, since Sunday 26 January, a massive influx of refugees – people who flee violence, fear and chaos in Rann. Rann is seven kilometers away from here. This is the entry point into Cameroonian territory and a hope for these people because they found real security here.”
3. Pan right, woman passing by with her belongings, soldier in back
4. SOUNDBITE (Local language) Kellou Maloum Modu, Refugee from Nigeria:
“When the military left, we had no other possibility but to leave. We had nothing to defend ourselves with, so it was better to leave.”
5. Various shots, refugees settling in makeshift camp
6. Med shot, Hebibi picking up her baby
7. SOUNDBITE (Local language) Hebibi Toudjum, Refugee from Nigeria:
“Boko Haram killed many people. We came here six days ago.”
8. Tracking shot, Baiochhi walking with delegation
9. Various shots, Baiochhi with refugees
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Allegra Baiochhi, Resident Coordinator in Cameroon, United Nations:
“It is very clear that the people who came really had no choice, they talked to us about being repeatedly attacked and fleeing and going back and fleeing again. Some of them said five, some of them said this is their tenth time that they seek a refuge in Cameroon. So, I think it is important to understand that they had no option and right now this is where they need to be if they want to stay alive and be in safety.”
11. Wide shot, people queuing up to get water
12. Med shot, girl washing dishes
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Geert Van de Casteele, Representative in Cameroon, UNHCR:
“Though we still have a lot of challenges, but we are bringing more people and just to show you – my colleagues have been able to in a very quick time to do a calculation and I can tell you in coming three months this emergency will need approximately between ten and eleven million dollars.”
14. Med shot, boy looking at people arriving
15. Wide shot, refugees arriving oil camp
Fleeing persistent attacks from Boko Haram, tens of thousands of Nigerians from the border town of Rann, have arrived in northeastern Cameroon seeking safety.
Some 35,000 Nigerians have fled from violence into Cameroon in the last two weeks of January. United Nations humanitarian agencies are scaling up their response to the developing crisis.
Around the village of Goura, in the far north-east of Cameroon, small shelters, some covered in the white sheeting provided by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), dot the landscape. Using a brief lull in fighting, refugees dash back across the border to Nigeria and carry back their belongings.
Jean-Sebastien Munie, head of UN sub-office for humanitarian affairs (OCHA) in the nearby Maroua, said “We are facing, since Sunday, 26 January, a massive influx of refugees – people who flee violence, fear and chaos in Rann.”
The refugees left Rann following the recent withdrawal of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which came to secure the city after an attack on 14 January. The MNJTF was set up by the affected countries – Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Benin – to counter Boko Haram and other terrorist groups which are gaining ground across the Lake Chad region.
Kellou Maloum Modu, refugee from Rann said they had no other choice but to flee.
He said, “when the military left, we had no other possibility but to leave. We had nothing to defend ourselves with, so it was better to leave.”
The terrorist group Boko Haram has been active in this impoverished corner of north-east Nigeria for over a decade. Thousands of people not just in Nigeria, but over the border in Cameroon and Chad, have been killed, many summarily executed. The livelihoods of tens of thousands of others have been destroyed in the insurgency, as regional governments struggle to put an end to the ongoing violence.
Hebibi Toudjum arrived from Rann six days ago after fleeing a killing spree perpetrated by the Boko Haram.
She is one of around 35,000 people who have fled Rann in the last two weeks after Boko Haram extremist fighters, repeatedly attacked the town.
For now, the Nigerian refugees are safe in Cameroon, although many are once again putting themselves at risk by returning to Rann on foot, to collect a few personal possessions which were not looted or burnt.
During her visit to Goura on Friday (01 Feb), the UN Resident Coordinator in Cameroon, Allegra Baiochhi said, “it’s very clear that the people who came really had no choice, they talked to us about being repeatedly attacked and fleeing and going back and fleeing again. Some of them said five, some of them said this is their tenth time that they seek a refuge in Cameroon. So, I think it is important to understand that they had no option and right now this is where they need to be if they want to stay alive and be in safety.”
The United Nations and its partners have responded to the sudden influx into Goura by providing basic services in what is now a makeshift refugee settlement. Some 13,000 people have received food rations and each registered refugee is getting six litres of clean water a day, some way below the recommended 15 litre minimum.
UNHCR’s top official in Cameroon Geert Van de Casteele said in Goura; “my colleagues have been able to in a very quick time to do a calculation and I can tell you in coming three months this emergency will need approximately between ten and eleven million dollars.”
In January, the UN, in coordination with the Government and aid partners, announced its 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan which focuses on the whole of the country, including areas affected by Boko Haram. Around 4.3 million Cameroonians, mostly women and children, are now in need of lifesaving assistance.