CAMEROON: a new emergency mission

Published on Thursday 9 October 2014

In the last few months, almost 130,000 people have fled the Central African Republic. The exhausted new arrivals survive in very fragile conditions. Our emergency team has been deployed to Cameroon to provide essential aid to several thousands of these refugees.

They walked for months, putting their lives at risk, before ending up here in Cameroon. They hid. They were robbed, attacked. They drew water from rivers to quench their thirst. They ate grass. It was better to be ill than to starve… More than a million people have had to flee their homes in the CAR since violence broke out last December. By the end of September, almost 130,000 people had managed to reach neighboring Cameroon, mainly the North and East Regions, and Adamawa Region. But they are not out of danger.
Helping them is a challenge. Partly because there are so many crossing points spread along the 700km border with the CAR. And partly because there is still not enough aid in place to meet the humanitarian needs of this unending flow of refugees, who are all in very bad health.

Thousands of refugees to cross the border from the CAR by December 2014

We’re seeing people who are extremely weak, dehydrated, and malnourished. They need immediate help,” explains Sandra Lamarque, head of our emergency team, from Gado Badzere. “What’s more, the camps are overflowing. For example, the camp that I’m in now was designed to hold 8,000 people. More than 15,000 people live here now. So they only have 10 liters of water per day, and share one toilet between 100 people. There are fewer refugees coming from the CAR than there were in April. It used to be thousands every week, and there were only a few hundred in September. But that is still a considerable number of people.

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL carries out a lot of its work in a new refugee camp, Gado 2, built to ease the pressure on Gado camp. Andrea Angioletti, our emergency team’s advisor on water, hygiene and sanitation, tells us more: “In this camp, the sanitation situation is still unstable. So while some families are building shelters here, others are staying in Gado 1, because of the delays in building infrastructure here. And there aren’t enough sealed jerry cans to store water – this leads to diarrhea and other illnesses.

“In order to improve this situation, we’ve taken on responsibility for building and maintaining latrines, showers, water reserves and bore holes, along with the distribution of new jerry cans. Our goal is to meet the needs of the 6,000 refugees expected in this camp.” Recent predictions indicate that several tens of thousands of refugees from the CAR will cross the Cameroon border between September and the end of December, so our emergency team needs your support more than ever.

NB. Extracts from this article have already appeared on the website in a different form.

  • 24.9 million inhabitants
  • 37.5% poverty rate
  • 150th out of 189 on the Human Development Index
  • 601,000 people helped