By James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - At least 100,000 people in the far north of Cameroon have been displaced due to clashes between herders, fishermen, and farmers over the past two weeks, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.
More than 85,000 people have fled into neighboring Chad in recent days, while at least 15,000 Cameroonians have been internally displaced, according to the UNHCR estimates.
“Indications are that displacement into Chad has accelerated fast, as the total is nearly triple the figure reported last week, when 30,000 people had crossed the border seeking safety,” a UNHCR statement said.
“Casualties from the fighting have also risen to 44 people killed and 111 injured, compared to 22 dead and 30 wounded reported last week. In total, 112 villages were burned down,” the statement added.
The vast majority of new arrivals in Chad are children, and 98% of the adults are women, it said, adding some 48,000 have found refuge in 18 urban sites in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, and 37,000 people are scattered across 10 rural sites along Chad’s bank of the Logone River.
“In Far North Cameroon, security forces have been deployed and disarmament operations are underway. While few incidents have been reported during the past week, tensions remain high,” UNHCR said.
It, however, said that due to insecurity, it cannot access Logone Birni rural district where the clashes started.
Clashes initially broke out on Dec. 5 in the border village of Ouloumsa following a dispute between herders, fishermen, and farmers over dwindling water resources
“The climate crisis is exacerbating the competition for resources, especially water. The surface of Lake Chad has decreased by as much as 95 per cent in the past 60 years,” UNHCR said.
Fishermen and farmers have dug vast trenches to retain the remaining river water so they can fish and cultivate crops.
But the muddy trenches are trapping and sometimes killing cattle belonging to the herders, sparking tension and fighting.
Chad is home to close to a million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) and Cameroon hosts more than 1.5 million refugees and IDPs.
The UNHCR said financial resources to respond to the situation in both countries remain critically low.