Cameroon's porous borders a threat to country's stability
March 20, 2014

The overall security situation in Cameroon is calm. However, due to ongoing instability in the region, and coupled with its leaky borders, the country has been receiving refugees and asylum-seekers from neighbouring countries, mainly the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria and Chad. This may just be at the expense of the country's hard-sustained peace.

Mokun Njouny Nelson reports.

The main groups of refugees from the Central African Republic, who since 2006 have been fleeing insecurity due to high levels of banditry and other criminal acts in the north-west region of their country; a group of refugees who began to arrive from the Central African Republic in March 2013, following a new wave of political instability and insecurity; and Nigerian refugees fleeing fighting between insurgents of the Boko Haram and Government forces. The country hosts urban refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly in Yaoundé and Douala, from 28 countries of origin, including the CAR, Chad, the Republic of the Congo (Congo), Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda.

In the East and Adamaoua Regions, refugees from the Central African Republic are spread over more than 308 sites across 50,000 square kilometres. This logistical challenge is further aggravated by poor road conditions and makes access to refugees difficult for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR and partners.

According to United Nations statistics, Cameroon currently hosts over 100,000 people of concern to UN United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This is just the figure of those who have cared to register with the United Nations. Practically, thought the country is home to over One Million refugees, a number that may be a modest estimation if one were to consider that Central African Republic has emptied in to Cameroon following the crisis there.

The country has always kept its borders open to asylum-seekers especially as it is signatory to all major international and regional legal instruments on refugees.

In spite of the fact that economically, Cameroon is among the group of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and ranked 150th out of 187 countries in the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index, it has been striving to provide protection and asylum for people of concern. For example it has allocation land for refugee camps both in the North and East Regions. It also facilitates access of refugee children to local schools and health centres, with the support of UN United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

While we may pride the Cameroon government for its hospitality, it may just be exposing the country to danger. A recent cross-border attacks that have led to the death of peace loving Cameroonians both in the Far North and East Regions may just be warnings. Government should reconsider its border policies for the utmost interest of the country's' security that risks being shattered by mercenaries that now consider Cameroon as a save heaven and base. When they will be out of their ruthless jobs, this country may just be the next target. If nothing is done and fast too, you will quote me tomorrow.