Celebrations marking the 17th World Refugee day in Cameroon took place in Yaounde.
Refugees living in Cameroon notably those in the city of Yaounde were massively gathered in order to celebrate World Refugee day this 20th June 2017. They communed as one and danced in front of officials present during the commemoration ceremony. The occasion was well chosen for these vulnerable people to raise their voices, pledge for continuous financial and material assistance from governments and worldwide donors.
The spokesperson of refugees’ communities in Cameroon, Zaid Khamis, in his speech, expressed the gratitude of refugees, living in a peaceful and hospitable country like Cameroon. Zaid Khamis also outlined the difficulties refugees are daily faced with. He said refugees cannot succeed without the help of all. They need decent jobs to carter for themselves. The country Representative of the UNHCR on his turn, praised the solidarity and numerous efforts made by the Cameroonian government.
Mr Kouassi Lazare Etien in his address underlined the main projects carried out for refugees nationwide. The biometric verification and registration exercise for Central African refugees and asylum seekers living in the East, Adamawa and North regions just ended, he said. Added to this long list of realizations is the repatriation accord signed between the UNHCR and the government. A total of 10,448 Nigerian refugees living in Minawao camp spontaneously returned home. Lazare Kouassi Etien among others cited the rehabilitation of classrooms, potable water taps and health centers in different regions hosting refugees.
The Minister of external relations, Lejeune Mbella Mbella presiding at this official ceremony, brought out the fact that, the country is today hosting about 33 nationalities. He called on togetherness and peaceful cohabitation between the refugees and their Cameroonian brothers and sisters.
This June 20, 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) and Cameroon’s government commemorated the day, in support of the strength, courage and perseverance of refugees. Most importantly, this year commemorations enter within the framework of the *WithRefugees campaign, in french “Aveclesréfugiés”. The campaign is an appeal to everyone to mobilize for the refugees, by signing the petition. The call as outlined by the UNHCR, is a call for governments to keep their promise made in September 2016, date during which “global leaders agreed to work towards a Global Compact for Refugees in 2018, where all parts of the society stand together *WithRefugees and do their fair share instead of leaving individual states to bear the burden of mass forced displacement”.
According to the latest data released by the UNHCR, Cameroon presently hosts 639,900 people of concern, including 259,145 Central African refugees and 88,570 Nigerian refugees. Yet, funding remains one of the biggest challenges underscored by the UNHCR. Impacts are felt on the food ration basket which reduced by 50%.
By Elise Kenimbeni