The UN has expressed concerns about the swelling numbers of people fleeing English-speaking areas of Cameroon for Nigeria, saying it is particularly worried over safety of women and children, NAN reports.
JUICYLINKS gathered that William Spindler, spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), decried the precarious situation of women and children, which made up about 80 percent of the approximately 10,000 registered refugees in Nigeria’s Cross River.
He said: “Some of these are boys and girls who fled to Nigeria alone. UNHCR has received numerous reports that children have to work or beg to survive or to help their families.
“Many reported that they were unable to attend school, for lack of time and money. Thousands more are among the population of unregistered Cameroonians in neighbouring states, where some of the children are unaccompanied and vulnerable.
“UNHCR is working with the Nigerian authorities to assist with the reunification of separated children with their families, to provide unaccompanied children with protection services and to restore the basic right of all children to education.”
Spindler added that some of the children fleeing to Nigeria told UNHCR that they had been out of school in Cameroon for all of 2017.
He said: “Incidents of domestic violence, as well as cases of teenage pregnancies involving girls as young as 14, have also been reported.”
Spindler said that in Benue, two school buildings were serving as temporary refugee accommodations, where women and their families sleep inside communal school halls – deprived of private space and the right to family dignity.
He stressed: “For them, and for the rest of the population living in temporary tents hastily built next to local residences, sufficient and appropriate shelter is key to ensuring adequate registration, systematic aid distribution and reduced protection risks.”
According to him, UNHCR and the Nigerian authorities are currently working to identify sites away from the border, where the refugees can live according to international standards.