FLASH ARRESTS, EMPTY STOMACHS… SUFFERING IS THE ANTHEM OF CAMEROONIAN REFUGEES IN NIGERIA

FLASH ARRESTS, EMPTY STOMACHS… SUFFERING IS THE ANTHEM OF CAMEROONIAN REFUGEES IN NIGERIA

 

“I know a friend who applied to be a taxi driver. He went to one company and was asked to bring two Nigerian citizens who are civil servants. It’s like the system is to frustrate us. I don’t understand,” Malfoy, the reporter’s access man chips in, in his authoritative, gravelly voice. Cameroonians in a refugee camp in Cross River (December 2018)

In December 2017, SaharaReporters visited four communities playing host to Anglophone Cameroonians fleeing violence and a general hospital, where many were receiving medical attention.

At the crest of the Obudu Mountain in Obanliku Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State, women were seen quarrying stone to build a toilet for their makeshift camp. In a community called Amana in the same LGA, there is a woman who lost seven children while fleeing a rampaging army. At Ajaso LGA were irate youth, swearing to resist suppression from the Francophone Cameroonian government. Nigerian families forced by the dire state of their guests to share their little morsels with more needy mouths were also captured in the report. Still ringing, though, is the encounter with Kelly in Etung Local Government Area of Cross River State. Forced out of school by the violence, she finds herself in Nigeria with three siblings. Kelly is an epitome of the many dreams that have been shattered or suspended by a three-decade-old government bent on having its way. There are some, though, who migrated to Lagos and found school once more. We meet a few of them later.

What has become an armed struggle for independence started out as a gentle call by the English-speaking Cameroonians to the Francophone government to halt reforms that saw Francophone teachers foisted on Anglophone students and French civil law imposed in English Common law courts.

Sixteen months later, several secession leaders and refugees have been arrested by the Nigerian government and deported to Cameroon. Refugees are running from border towns to find succour elsewhere. SaharaReporters sought out those camped out in Lagos to find out if events have steamrolled them or if they are putting up a resilient stance.

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