UNHCR – UNHCR’s Grandi meets conflict-displaced Cameroonians for scarce resources Donate

By Cédric Kalonji Mfunyi in Maroua, Cameroon | May 01, 2022

When simmering conflicts between herders, fishermen and farmers over scarce water resources in Cameroon’s Far North region escalated into violence last December, the village of Tomma Ndjinda was among the victims of the deadly clashes.


“Our village was attacked and we were forced to flee without having time to take anything with us,” she says.

Ndjinda headed south in search of safety with her husband and seven children, ending up at Ardjaniré’s displacement site in Bogo. The site currently hosts around half of the 4,200 people in this area who have fled the worst intercommunal violence ever seen in Cameroon’s Far North.

But faced with a desperate shortage of food and other resources despite the generous welcome of the local community, Ndjinda’s husband returned to collect what he could of their crops and possessions.

“My husband tried to return to our village to harvest sorghum from our fields. But when he arrived, he discovered that the migrating birds had eaten everything. All of our belongings were also destroyed,” she explained. Tragically, her husband never returned, and Ndjinda believes the shock of seeing what had become of their home led to his sudden death.

Now forced to care for seven children on her own with no income, Ndjinda doesn’t know how they will survive. “We lack everything. When the children get sick, I can’t take them to the hospital.”

The climate crisis is exacerbating competition for water and other resources in this part of Africa’s Sahel region, where temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average. Water levels in Lake Chad have declined by 95% over the past 60 years, and the effects are being felt on communities that depend on the Logone and Chari rivers that feed the lake on Cameroon’s far northern border.

During a three-day visit to Cameroon that ended on Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, met Ndjinda and other displaced families affected by the recent violence, who told him the urgent needs they face.

“Beyond the efforts of the authorities and the generosity shown by the host communities, the needs for food, education and healthcare remain,” Grandi said. “We also heard concerns about the strain on local services, highlighting the need to increase our support for displaced families and local community members hosting them.”

UNHCR and its partners are working to establish safe displacement sites and provide life-saving assistance, including water, shelter and household items. In collaboration with the Cameroonian authorities, the agency has also led conflict resolution efforts aimed at ending the violence.

  • The High Commissioner visits students at a school in the Ardjaniré displacement site. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

  • Filippo Grandi (centre-right) and Millicent Mutuli, Director of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa (centre-left), meet one of the residents of the Ardjaniré displacement site.

    Filippo Grandi (centre-right) and Millicent Mutuli, Director of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa (centre-left), meet one of the residents of the Ardjaniré displacement site. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

  • Grandi plants a tree as part of a reforestation project on the site to combat desertification.

    Grandi plants a tree as part of a reforestation project on the site to combat desertification. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

  • Internally displaced people sit in the shade of one of the few remaining trees in the Ardjaniré site.

    Internally displaced people sit in the shade of one of the few remaining trees in the Ardjaniré site. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

“Identifying the causes of conflict and addressing them would ensure peaceful cohabitation between communities,” Grandi said. “Reconciliation and reconstruction are essential to pave the way for the voluntary and safe return of displaced families.” He also called for an assessment of reconstruction needs in areas affected by the violence.

During his visit to Ardjaniré, the High Commissioner visited a reforestation project that will plant 2,000 trees to help combat desertification exacerbated by the climate crisis and provide additional resources and income opportunities to displaced people. and local communities.

The project is part of the Great Green Wall initiative, which aims to raise an 8,000 kilometer continental barrier to combat land degradation, desertification and drought in the Sahel.

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