With a spike in clashes in the run up to the December 27, 2020 legislative and presidential elections, an estimated 4,500 Central African refugees have arrived at the border town of Garoua-Boulai within the past one month, according to figures made available by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees office in Cameroon.
Cameroon’s Eastern Region has been hosting about 259,000 Central African Republic refugees since war broke out in that country in 2014.
Besides the civilians, there has been an influx of soldiers of the Central African national army popularly known by its French acronym FACA into Cameroon as well as Chinese workers who were executing projects in the Central African Republic.
Within the past one week, the number of FACA soldiers seeking refuge in Cameroon has increased from 117 to 178, according to sources in Cameroon’s Ministry of Defense.
To assess the situation in the Eastern Region and bring succor to the refugees hosted there, Atanga Nji,the Minister of Territorial Administration, has been in the region since Sunday, January 10, distributing food and relief supplies to hundreds of refugees from the Central African Republic.
The Ministry of Territorial Administration is the supervisory ministry of all non-governmental organisations (NGOs), both local and international operating in the country.
“On our arrival here, the governor informed us that there have been other attacks and fighting in the Central African Republic,” the Minister told reporters on Monday.
This signifies that there would be another influx, that is to say persons would be arriving thus we have to be prepared for every eventuality.”
In spite of the volatile situation, the minister was reassuring:
“This situation is very preoccupying but the good news is that the governor has told me that the situation is under control, and that the defense and security forces are very well deployed on the corridor and in the frontier posts, that the high directives of the head of state are scrupulously respected to ensure that our positions are held and our security disposition is reinforced,” he said.
“The political perturbations of the neighbouring country have inevitably had repercussions on our security disposition which is why the head of state has once again prescribed vigilance and anticipation.”
Due to the precarious security situation, over 1,500 trucks carrying supplies from Cameroon to the Central African Republic have been blocked in Garoua-Boulai for several weeks now.