Refugees from Cameroon seek shelter in Nigeria

Since 2016, Cameroon, a country with a population of 23.4 million people, in West Central Africa, has lived tensions between the government and separatists from the Anglophone territories. Separatists declared independence in 2017 for a new state called “Ambazonia” in the northwest of the country that Cameroon’s government does not recognize. 

The frictions between English-speaking and Afro-speaking territories in Cameroon are a colonial heritage. In 1884, Cameroon became an African colony of the German Empire until 1916. After World War I, it became a territory of the League of Nations (the forerunner of UN after World War I), and it was split into French Cameroons and British Cameroons. The French part of Cameroon became independent in 1960 and the south part of British Cameroon federated with it in 1961 to create the Federal Republic of Cameroon. 

The conflict between the government forces and armed separatist groups seeking independence for the mainly English-speaking regions has left about 3,000 dead and over 679,000 of displaced, in only three years. 

Just before the parliamentary and municipal elections, held in early February, about 8,000 people crossed into Nigeria, where the Cameroonian refugee population rises to nearly 60,000 people, according to UNHCR. HRW reported that 21 civilians, including 13 children and a pregnant woman, were killed by government forces on February 14.

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