MSF Raises Alarm Over 40,000 Refugees Returning To Rann From Cameroon
About 40,000 residents of Rann who fled their homes in Borno State, following a recent attack by insurgents have been asked to leave their refugee camps in Goura, Cameroon.
This is according to the international humanitarian body, Médecins Sans Frontières, (MSF) which said that the affected people have started to make their way out of Cameroon.
Thousands of people fled Rann in Kalabalge Local Government Area of Borno State following the violent attack on the town on January 14, 2019.
They arrived in Bodo, Cameroon on foot, some seven kilometres across the border from Rann after crossing River El Eid Ebeji.
Since then, the refugees have been staying in a large camp in Goura, most of them sleeping in the open, even though it is sandstorm season and the temperature drops sharply at night.
The MSF Emergency Coordinator in Goura, Stéphanie Remion, has raised concern over their safety and welfare in the face of the new development.
“Today we are seeing people packing up their belongings and leaving for Rann after being told by Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities to leave.
“We are extremely concerned over what will happen to them once they go back to Rann as the security situation there is very uncertain and there is no humanitarian assistance available,” she said in a statement by the MSF Field Communication Officer in Borno State, AbdulKareem Yakubu.
According to the MSF, many of the people did not want to return because of fear, following the several attacks that had been launched on the community by the terrorists.
Of particular concern to the MSF is the health implication of the people returning to Rann, where they might not get adequate medical help.
“We know there were suspected cases of measles in Goura and if this spreads in Rann where there is no medical care available, it will be a disaster. We call on the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria to protect these vulnerable people and ensure they can seek safety where they choose and where they have access to essential means such as shelter, food, and medical care,” the MSF added.
The MSF whose warehouse, office, and clinic were looted and burnt down in Rann, had set up a clinic in the camp, providing more than 400 consultations.
Thirty-five per cent of these were for infectious respiratory diseases, followed by diarrhoea and conjunctivitis, all of which are related to the refugees’ poor living conditions, according to MSF officials.
According to the state governor, Kashim Shettima, vehicles were sent on to convey the refugees to the closest Nigerian town, Ngala, to enable them cast their votes on Saturday before returning to Goura.