Latest Flareup of Intercommunal Clashes in Cameroon Kills Dozens, Displaces Thousands



A new cycle of intercommunal clashes over scarce resources in Cameroon have killed and injured scores of people and sent at least 100,000 fleeing from their homes.

Just last week, the U.N. refugee agency reported intercommunal clashes that erupted December 5 in Cameroon’s Far North region had prompted 30,000 refugees to flee across the border into Chad in search of safety.

UNHCR spokesman, Matthew Saltmarsh, says that number has nearly tripled over the past two weeks. He says fighting between herders, fishermen and farmers over dwindling land and water resources has driven an estimated 85,000 people into neighboring Chad, while some 15,000 Cameroonians are displaced inside their country.

"Casualties from the fighting have also risen to 44 people killed and 111 people injured," said Saltmarsh. "The vast majority of new arrivals into Chad are children, and 98 percent of the adults are women.”

This compares to a casualty toll of 22 dead and 30 wounded during the last cycle of Inter-communal violence.

Fighting among the pastoral, farming and fisher communities has worsened because of the climate crisis. Growing desertification over the last few decades has resulted in limited access to water and land for grazing and farming. Competition for these diminishing resources has led to more frequent and more brutal clashes.

Saltmarsh says victims of these altercations are in dire need of life-saving assistance. He says the UNHCR is rapidly scaling up its operations to help affected people in Cameroon and new refugees in Chad.

"Refugees are in dire need of shelter, blankets, mats and hygiene kits. Some are being generously hosted by local communities, but most are still sleeping out in the open or under trees," said Saltmarsh. "Many of the displaced report difficulties finding safe water and have no access to latrines; concerning hygiene issues are on the rise.”

Saltmarsh says money to finance this expensive operation is in low supply. He notes just over half of the $240 million needed to support humanitarian operations in Cameroon and Chad has been received.

Source: Voice of America

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