UN: Deadly epidemics, lack of food threaten Nigerian refugees in Cameroon

New York, US (PANA) - Families on the run often surviving brutal attacks in Nigeria are
now threatened with the lack of food, water and deadly epidemics in neighbouring
Cameroon, where they have sought refuge, Toby Lanzer, UN Regional Humanitarian
Coordinator for Africa's Sahel region said on Monday.

"Many fled overnight, leaving all they had behind," Mr. Lanze said in a statement after
a week-long visit to Yaounde, Cameroon, and the Far North region to assess the
mounting humanitarian impact of the crisis in neighbouring northeast Nigeria and
the Lake Chad Basin.

He said: "They (refugees) now rely on humanitarian assistance and the scarce
resources of host communities that were already on the brink before the crisis."

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
grave concerns persist for some 20 million people in the Sahel region and
recurrent conflict, erratic weather patterns, epidemics and other shocks continue
to weaken the resilience of households across a region still suffering chronic levels
of food insecurity and malnutrition.

"And beyond the chronic threats of food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics,
violent conflict in and around the Sahel region has led to a surge in population
displacement," the UN official noted.

He said that Cameroon’s Far North region hosts almost 200,000 forced migrants,
including 80,000 internally displaced persons and over 57,000 Nigerian refugees
who fled the violence and settled either in the Minawao refugee camp or with local
communities along border areas.

"Families on the run often survived brutal attacks and face severe trauma. As if
this was not enough of a burden, we now worry that their lives are threatened by
the lack of food and water, malnutrition and deadly epidemics such as cholera
and measles," said Mr. Lanzer.

"In the Far North, food insecurity has dramatically spiked in recent months,
affecting one in every three people. Insecurity is undermining population
movements, daily commercial and agricultural activities, adversely impacting
the livelihoods of communities still recovering from a decade of droughts.

"As farmers were forced to flee away from their lands, many will miss the harvest
next month. Without timely humanitarian assistance, communities may take years
to recover," he said.

Also, Ms. Najat Rochdi, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator in
Cameroon, stated: "Funding of Cameroon’s humanitarian appeal covers barely
40 per cent of the needs, threatening the viability of humanitarian response to
the Far North over the coming months."

"Food distribution, access to health services and psycho-social care are among
our top priorities to save lives and restore the dignity of the displaced.

"A renewed engagement by development actors is also essential if we are to
address the root causes of chronic vulnerability and ensure stability of the region
in a durable manner," she said.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  14Sept2015

14 september 2015 19:34:09

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