CAR Refugees Flee Conflict

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YAOUNDE, Cameroon--Those seeking refuge from violence in the Central African Republic are turning to nearby Cameroon for sanctuary. Since December, around 85,000 displaced individuals have flooded the country. However, insufficient resources prevent it from being the safe haven they need.

Between April 14 and May 19, 29 children (infants to nine-year-olds) have died en route to Cameroon. The weeks-long journey from CAR is difficult and leaves many refugees severely malnourished. Some are already wounded due to CAR violence. Other conditions include hypothermia and dehydration.

Operations backed by the World Food Programme and the UN Refugee Agency are attempting to provide food, shelter and medical care, including vaccinations.  The Regional Refugee Response Plan, which along with Cameroon also assists Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo in handling refugees is severely underfunded.

More than 2,000 refugees continue to trickle into Cameroon. The number is down from around 10,000 per week -- not because there are fewer refugees, but because main roads are now blocked by anti-balaka, Christian militants.

The flow of refugees coincides with the beginning of the rainy season. As well as causing a deterioration in housing conditions, this can also result in the spread of diseases.

The Ways And Means Of Boko Haram

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 19:15 p.m. DST, 9 May 2014

"Combined force clears insurgent camp" Photo by: International Security Assistance ForceBORNO, Nigeria -- Modeled in the image of the Taliban and affiliated with the al Qaeda network, Boko Haram is not a newcomer to the industry of terror. Posing as a legitimate branch of Islam, the dangerous extremist group has orchestrated a campaign of heinous crimes against humanity for the past five years.

Operating in northern Nigeria and parts of Cameroon and Niger, the insurgents have recently stirred international attention after abducting more than 250 young women from an all-girls boarding school in Chibok last month. While the Borno-based kidnappings have rightfully triggered media outrage, Boko Haram's other efforts are equally disturbing.

On Monday, 5 May 2014, the guerrillas waged a 12-hour massacre on civilians in the small town of Gamboru Ngala, located in the northeast corner of Nigeria. Just miles from the Cameroon border, the assailants stormed a local market, firing upon patrons and later burning the bazaar. Boko Haram bombed the police headquarters and destroyed community buildings, burning many victims alive. Nigerian officials estimate the death toll at 300.

The mission of Boko Haram is fragmented at best. Outspoken leader Abubakar Shekau is an equal opportunity hate monger, whose agenda targets Christians, Muslims and state and local governments. Tenets of Boko Haram include the strict compliance of Sharia law, which codifies gender roles and regulations according to the Quran.

Boko Haram formed as a response to perceived issues in the Nigerian government, and they intend to oust President Goodluck Johnathan. In a sense, the continued existence of the extremists and the relative ease at which the group is able to operate is seeming confirmation that problems persist in the standing administration. As a whole, the police force in Nigeria is seen as impotent, and as a result many crimes are never reported to authorities.

The beginnings of Boko Haram indignation and hostility trace back to unresolved cultural clashes and a lack of security presence. Human Rights Watch documents the ongoing battle between Christians and Muslims in Plateau and Kaduna States. Many Nigerians are upset with President Johnathan's response to the murderous feud and expect government action to stop future attacks. The problem, of course, is that Boko Haram's solution to the nonintervention is further bloodletting.

In the past year, Boko Haram has waged three underreported onslaughts on various schools located in Yobe State. Each attack follows a similar plan--insurgents break into boarding schools during early morning hours, throwing explosives into dormitories and bombarding children with heavy gunfire.

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Published: 9 May 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

The July 2013 massacre at Yobe State School left 42 dead. 44 students perished at Gujba College in September 2013. And 59 boys were killed during the bombing and burning of the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi in February 2014. These tragedies eclipse any mass shooting in the United States in terms of scale, but receive significantly less media consideration.

It is no coincidence that Yobe and Borno States border one another. Together, they represent the cradle of Boko Haram activity. The geographic and political makeup of northern Nigeria help to explain the persistence of regional violence and extremism. Throughout rural and remote states, Boko Haram targets young men who live in severe poverty. The promise of resources, weapons and food provisions is enough to gather an increasing number of recruits.

But poor and powerless individuals are not the only ones buying into the warped ideology. Given the size and strength of the Boko Haram militia, numerous local governments and politicians pay the insurgents for protection. Extortion money remains the fiscal backbone of the organization. In some cases, local officials give Boko Haram leadership outright control. According to some estimates, these terrorists are the acting rulers in almost a third of all local governments in Borno.

While parts of northern Nigeria are dangerous, and the need for protection is an unfortunate reality in the region, certainly Boko Haram is the chief reason a village would need defense in the first place. Financing from local councils only serve to keep communities and leaders out of the firefight.

Nevertheless, this financial support keeps the dangerous rebel organization viable and keeps neighboring townships in a treacherous position. It seems that no person and no group is safe from the extremism embraced by Abubakar Shekau and his operation. As evident by the August 2011 assassination of Muslim leader Liman Bana, the Islamic establishment is as much a threat to Boko Haram as the Christian equivalent.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and also its largest economy. But the massive gap in wealth between the oil-endowed southern states of Nigeria and the agrarian north also plays into the tensions between the haves and the have-nots. Rooted in this inequity and growing stronger in the manure of hatred, Boko Haram continues to threaten peace and sensibility throughout the Continent.

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Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Central African Republic's Tragic Conditions

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 21:41 p.m. DST, 12 September 2013

CAR Malaria Victim Helped by Aid Victim, Photo by Merlin-Frédéric Courbet-PanosCENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, Africa - A few United Nations agencies have released new reports that disclose the dire statistics of the current status of the Central African Republic (CAR). Although a peace agreement was reached in January between the national government and the Séléka rebel coalition, the rebels soon reclaimed the capital of Bangui and have since repeatedly stirred up violence and lawlessness through the volatile country.

The newest UN reports reveal that villages are still being burned to the ground by armed militants which has forced thousands to flee their homes and seek basic human necessities. It is has been calculated that over a third of the country's population of 4.6 million people are in desperate need of food, shelter, healthcare, water, protection and sanitation.

This is clearly a huge humanitarian crisis, and poses a threat to the ever-increasing unstable region. The DRC to the south has its own civil conflict raging on, and refugees from the CAR are fleeing into neighboring Chad and Cameroon daily.

As torture, looting, kidnapping, assaults and extortion continue through the country, UN agencies are trying to provide all of the assistance they can, but it is imperative that the central government regain control of the country and put an end to the rebels' stronghold on power. As long as the rebels have unchecked power, they will continue to ravage the countryside for food, supplies, and potential human capital.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols