IOM Evacuates Stranded Chadian Migrants from Cameroon
Cameroon - Two years since the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) began, IOM is continuing to help Chadian migrants stranded in Cameroon to return home. The migrants were living in CAR and had to flee during the conflict.
Last weekend (29/8) IOM transported 121 Chadian migrants from Cameroon to Chad by road with funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
The move follows operations earlier this year to help 191 migrants from Liberia, Niger, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad still living in IOM-built transit sites in Kentzou and Garoua Boulai in eastern Cameroon on the CAR border return home.
Some 299 Nigerians are still living in the sites, pending their repatriation. IOM has provided shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and medical services at the sites since May 2014. The World Food Programme has provided food.
As the result of the CAR crisis, which began in December 2013, over 18,000 migrants from Chad, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan were forced to flee to Cameroon.
“We have been working with the Chadian Embassy in Cameroon, IOM colleagues in Chad, the Cameroonian and the Chadian authorities to ensure the group’s safe transportation and return home by road,” said Roger Charles Evina, IOM Chief of Mission in Cameroon. “It took a long time to approve their request for repatriation, because of security concerns.”
IOM medical staff provided pre-departure “fit to travel” medical checks before the journey and travelled with the migrants to Chad. IOM also provided hot meals and water during the trip. The migrants were also given basic and non-food item kits which included blankets, mosquito nets, mattresses, and kitchen kits upon arrival in Chad
“The biggest challenge for this latest group of Chadian returnees and the other 60,000 who are still in the temporary sites in the Chadian capital N’Djamena and in the south of the country is their reintegration, stabilization and social cohesion with the host communities,” said IOM Chad Chief of Mission Dr. Qasim Sufi. “We are appealing to the donor community to continue providing financial assistance to IOM,” he added.
Another consequence of the crisis is that many migrants are in limbo in terms of their cultural identity. “The tensions between the communities caused by the crisis in CAR have led to the ‘return’ of people whose ancestors left Chad decades ago,” explained IOM Chief of Mission in CAR, Torsten Haschenz. “These people are ‘returning’ to a country they might have never lived in,” he added.