This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at a press briefing (19 January 2018) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
GENEVA, Switzerland, January 23, 2018 – This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at a press briefing (19 January 2018) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva:
With the number of people fleeing English-speaking areas of Cameroon for Nigeria growing, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is increasingly concerned at the plight of women and children among them.
Women and children represent about 80 per cent of the approximately 10,000 refugees registered so far in eastern Nigeria’s Cross River state. Thousands more are among the population of unregistered Cameroonians in neighbouring states.
Some of these are boys and girls who fled to Nigeria alone. Unaccompanied and separated children are particularly affected by difficult access to food and the lack of subsistence opportunities.
UNHCR staff have received numerous reports that children have to work or beg to survive or to help their families. Many children are unable to attend school, as they lack both the time and funds for education. Although schooling in Nigeria is free, there are still some basic costs, such as those for school materials.
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. Some children arriving to Nigeria reported to UNHCR that they had been out of school in Cameroon for the whole of the past academic year.
For women, the lack of work combined with the over-stretched reception facilities, creates a higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly from survival sex. So far, only a limited number of such cases have been recorded, mainly in the Amana community of Cross River state. However, UNHCR is concerned that many more incidents go unreported or are referred only to community elders. Incidents of domestic violence, as well as cases of teenage pregnancies involving girls as young as 14, have also been reported.
In Nigeria’s Benue state, where two school buildings have been reserved by authorities to serve as temporary refugee hosting accommodation, women and their families are forced to sleep inside communal school halls, deprived of private space and the right to family dignity. 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 ensure adequate registration, systematic aid distribution and reduced protection risks.
UNHCR is currently working with the Nigerian authorities to identify sites away from the border, where the refugees can be hosted according to international standards. We are also establishing offices in the towns of Calabar and Adikpo to better provide assistance and protection to the women and children. Our support includes food, basic relief items, health, and water and sanitation facilities.
UNHCR recognizes the enormous generosity of the Nigerian border communities, opening their doors to Cameroonian refugees. Almost all of those registered reported that they had left their homes because of insecurity and that they would go back only when it’s safe to do so.
The Nigerian Government, more than a week after the abductions has not as much considered a press statement on the abductions even when the majority of those abducted are duly registered refugees in Nigeria.
BUEA, Ambazonia, January 16, 2018 – The Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (Ambagov.org) (the former British Southern Cameroons), notes with dismay, the fact that since abducted at gunpoint on January 5th, 2018, the President, Julius Ayuk Tabe and 10 other members of his Cabinet have not been granted access to any lawyers and family members by the Nigerian Government which we are now aware that in complicity with the Cameroon regime in Yaoundé, engineered their abduction.
We condemn vehemently, the fact that the Nigerian Government, more than a week after the abductions has not as much considered a press statement on the abductions even when the majority of those abducted are duly registered refugees in Nigeria. Nigeria is a signatory to International conventions on human rights, and to be acting recklessly as it is doing in this case, is a bridge of those conventions.
The Interim Government IG, of Ambazonia calls on the Nigerian authorities to immediately effect the unconditional release of our President and the 10 others abducted along with him on January 5th.
We are demanding for the immediate and unconditional release of:
Dr. Nfor Ngala Nfor,
Dr. Fidelis Nde Che,
Dr. Henry Kimeng
Prof. Che Awasum
Dr. Cornelius Kwanga
Mr. Tassang Wilfred
Dr. Ojong Okonghor
Barrister Nalowa Bih
Barrister Shufai Blaise Berinyuh and
Barrister Eyambe Elias
We like to bring to the attention of the Nigerian Government, and the world at large the fact that these victims abducted in the guise of fomenting trouble in the nation of Cameroon are not Cameroonians. They are Ambazonians. And as long as the Cameroon Government continues the military occupation, assault, rape, killings and the savagery on property in the Ambazonian territory, our resolve to launch a campaign aimed at economic divestment in la Republic du Cameroun will not relent.
We will target foreign companies that do business in La Republique du Cameroun and whose revenue supports Mr. Paul Biya’s corrupt and inefficient functionaries. It is time for Western Governments to pass a Cameroon Divestment Act that will force their governments to cut investment ties with companies doing business in La Republique du Cameroun. But if they don’t, our actions will definitely force them to do so.
The Interim Government will like to make this clarification; The Cameroon crisis isn’t about secessionists or separatists, as is being widely reported. Ours is rather a classic problem of a failed decolonization from British colonial rule. If Britain had granted Southern Cameroons independence like all other colonial powers did to their territories, this problem would not be here now. So let it be made plain and clear, Ambazonians are not separatists or secessionists, we are freedom fighters in the order of Nkrumah, Lumumba, Awolowo, Azikiwe, John Garang, Nyerere etc., fighting colonization by La Republique du Cameroun. The Union between La Republique du Cameroun and the Southern Cameroons was never consummated.
The IG of Ambazonia, will continue worldwide campaigns for Southern Cameroons’ right to self-determination and continuous nonviolent protest within Cameroon until our dream of a completely free and independent Ambazonia is achieved. Nothing less.
Abducting our leaders isn’t going to deter us, it will only just spur us the more. And killing, arrest, torture, rape and even a hundred thousand more refugees will not deter our resolve.
We have battled the injustice forced upon us by the British Government for Fifty Six years. If the International Community thinks we are now ready to let go at this juncture, it is mistaken. If the UN, EU, Commonwealth, the AU, the US and British governments want to stop a bloodbath in Cameroon, THE TIME IS NOW, not tomorrow. Every one of us, 8million Ambazonians will be killed before our territory will be made part of Cameroun again.
WE WILL “LIVE FREE OR DIE.”
Secretary for Communication & IT
Federal Republic of Ambazonia
(Former British Southern Cameroons)