Violence in northern Cameroon between farmers and herders kills at least 22

More than 30,000 Cameroonians are said to have sought refuge in Chad

Josiane Kouagheu
Thursday 09 December 2021 15:19
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<p>Cameroonians who fled violence at a temporary refugee camp in Ndjamena, Chad, December 9, 2021</p>

Cameroonians who fled violence at a temporary refugee camp in Ndjamena, Chad, December 9, 2021

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At least 22 people have been killed and more than 30 others injured this week in Cameroon’s Far North region in a resurgence of tit-for-tat violence between Arab Choa herders and Mousgoum farmers.

Hundreds of people fleeing the violence have streamed across the border into neighbouring Chad, the mayor of Chad’s capital N’Djamena, Ali Haroun, told Reuters on Thursday.

“We are in a full-on inter-community conflict,” said a Cameroonian regional official, who asked not to be named.

A traditional leader in northern Cameroon, who also asked not to be named, said the violence began over access to water.

“The Arab Choa wanted to take their herds to the banks of a river. The Mousgoum and Massa prevented them,” the leader said.

“This problem needs to be resolved quickly because a few months ago, there were already deaths. Today, when there is a problem between two people from different communities, all the communities get involved with weapons.”

An official with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) acknowledged the conflict between the parties, saying the agency has been responding to the crisis after clashes in August and helped the government organize a reconciliation meeting last week.

The UN official said 40 villages involved in the conflict participated but that on Saturday, an Arab Choa herder tried to take his herd to the river and was prevented by farming communities, triggering a fight between the farmers and herders.

The clashes in August killed dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee to Chad.

Chad’s President Mahamat Idris Deby said on Twitter late on Wednesday that more than 30,000 Cameroonians had sought refuge in Chad, but did not specify if they were all from the latest wave of violence.

Deby urged the international community to provide prompt aid to help Chad deal with the situation.

Florent Mbang, who fled from Cameroon to a refugee camp in N’Djamena in Chad, said his family had crossed a river at night to escape the violence.

“Our children have not eaten since yesterday, we ask the Chadian authorities to help us, otherwise our situation here will be worse than the conflict we have at home,” he said.

The violence in Cameroon’s Far North region is taking place in a zone where the army has for years been battling Boko Haram and, more recently, militants linked to Isis.

Local officials say it is the worst ethnic violence they have seen, with one of the reasons being that residents have acquired weapons in recent years in response to insecurity caused by Boko Haram and local bandits.

Reuters

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