The unprovoked and brutal attack on a camp site hosting 800 internally displaced people (IDPs) near the village of Nguetchewe in Cameroon’s Far North region has been strongly condemned by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
The attack happened in the early hours of Sunday while people were sleeping in the makeshift camp, resulting in the death of 18 people while 11 were injured.
Some 1,500 people, including terrified residents of the hosting village, have fled to a nearby town for safety.
UNHCR said it is deploying an emergency mission to assess the situation and evaluate the protection and health needs of those affected.
UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said local communities in the impoverished area are often the first responders to those fleeing growing insecurity and violence in the area which covers Lake Chad and north-east Nigeria.
Baloch said that against the background of growing insecurity, UNHCR anticipates enhanced community protection, shelter, water and sanitation will be needed as the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNHCR calls on all actors to respect the civilian and humanitarian character of IDP camps, and to respond promptly to the urgent needs of people who have fled violence and suffered multiple displacements.
The attack follows a significant rise in violent incidents in Cameroon’s Far-North Region in July, including looting and kidnapping by Boko Haram and other armed groups active in the region.
The Far North region, tucked between Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states and Lake Chad, currently hosts 321,886 IDPs and 115,000 Nigerian refugees.
Baloch said the incident is also a sad reminder of the intensity and brutality of the violence in the wider the Lake Chad Basin region that has forced more than three million people to flee.
UNHCR figure show that 2.7million are internally displaced in Northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, while 292,682 Nigerian refugees fled into neighbouring countries.
Cameroon reports that since January this year, it has recorded 87 Boko Haram attacks on its northern border with Nigeria. Twenty-two of them were in the northern district of Mozogo alone.
Violent attacks have cost the lives of 30,000 people and displaced more than 3 million in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad. (Source: UNHCR)