From Judex Okoro, Calabar
In the last couple of months, Cross River has witnessed an influx of Cameroonian refugees into various communities in the state.
These Cameroonians, who ran for safety following a clamp down on the Southern Cameroon by the Cameroon government over move for session, are said to be facing socio economic challenges ranging from lack the basic needs such as foods, shelter, beddings to poor health condition.
Some of the refugees, mostly the vulnerable children and women from Bodam, Dai, Ekuekiien I and II, Ntanje, Bodam, Kajifu and Osung communities in Cameroon are camped at border villages in Ikom, Etung, Obudu, Boki, Obanliku and Obudu.
Reports from the office of the Assistant Representative in United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Abuja, Mr. Bamba Boubacar, revealed that over 10,000 refugees were registered in some various Cross River State communities and the exercises are continuing.
A visit o the camp at Ikom showed some of them who are sick including children and the elderly find it difficult to cope with the situation as many of them were seen looking pale and weak with feverish condition. Worried by the plight of these Cameroon refugees the state government recently donated food items and other accessories to the over 3000 of them residing in Ikom Local Government Area.
The items, which included rice, plantain, beans, yam, garri, palmoil to provisions and indomie a toiletries, were conveyed by two large trucks bearing Cross River food bank to the Ikom council centre.
Making the presentation, Governor Ben Ayade, represented by the Managing Director, Cross River Food Bank Commission, Mrs. Mercy Akpama, said: “I am aware of your pains and I am not relenting in my contacts with President Muhammadu Buhari and the international community to know that what is happening to you is not good before God and humanity.
“There is no greater pain like depriving a people of their ancestral homes and reducing them to wants in body and soul. This passion has led me to bring food to you and soon I will build camps for you while waiting for my contacts to come to fruition in a bid to see you return to your ancestral homes.
“I love you all and urge you to stay in peace with your hosts, remain patriotic and obey the laws of the land. Share these items in love for your suffering will not be too long.”
Director General, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, John Inaku, said: “The governor is passionate about your plight and what is here is the beginning. We have your brothers and sisters in other locations as well, those of you in Ikom this one has come to you and more will come.
“We will not allow the people die of starvation; the drugs are coming to boost your health needs. The governor will come with more things for you, be law abiding, you are our brothers and sisters and we love you all.
“We have your brothers and sisters in other locations as well, these items are for those of you in Ikom and I can assure you that the governor will also reach others soon. Just be law abiding; you are our brothers and sisters and we love you all.”
Coordinator, Southern Cameroon Refugees, Abia David: “A drop of water to a man who is very thirsty is a welcome development. We are appreciative of this gesture by Cross River State Governor, Prof Ayade, and it is a sign that he cares about our wellbeing.”
Chairman, All Cross River Nationalities Front (ACRNF), Edet Okon Asim, called on the Federal Government for quick intervention, to stem further humanitarian crisis, maintaining that the pressure created by their presence will be overbearing on host communities:
“Cross River State in particular and the country in general have had to bear the brunt of the Cameroun crisis, disclosed that more than 200,000 refugees were already in the state, a situation it said, has put tremendous pressure on the weak social facilities of their host communities.
“Right now, there are over 200,000 refugees scattered all over Akamkpa, Etung, Ikom and Boki local government areas of Cross River State. We call on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FERMA) to wade into the crisis to provide immediate support facilities and supplies to these communities.”
Responding on behalf of the refugees, Ayaba William remarked: “We extend our sincere thanks to the governor and the Food Bank Commission for the love, care and provision to ensure that we are not stranded. We have also found in Cross River state a government that respects the value for humanity.
“We thank Ikom council for making us comfortable, we will do the best to remain law abiding and ensure that our host communities never regret affording us their homes and farms to survive from. He that lends to the poor lends to the Lord, let the Lord you have given to, protect you mightily and bless the people of this state and nation.”