Central African refugees in Cameroon who fled from political and sectarian turmoil in the Central African Republic have been coming home since 2014. Most of the CAR refugees in Cameroon are female and child-headed households. Hundreds of people have consented to return to their towns and villages after Bangui claimed that peace had returned.
300 Central African refugees who had consented to return home were given food and blankets by Cameroonian officials at a camp in Gado Badzere on Wednesday.
Out of the 300,000 people who have escaped fighting, Gado Badzere has taken in more over 30,000 C.A.R. refugees.
Robert Bissa, a 35-year-old farmer from the Central African Republic, is one of the refugees returning this week.
An attack on an army camp by the rebels in 2017 killed citizens and damaged the shop whence he sold his food, so he decided to leave the Central African Republic in 2018.
Asked by Bissa if his hamlet in the southern C.A.R. had returned to normal, his family assured him that it had. He stated that he wishes to return to his land and cultivate beans and groundnuts.
More than 2,500 refugees, mainly women and children, have consented to return home by the end of the year, according to authorities in Cameroon and the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR).
Refugees in Cameroon, according to UNHCR Cameroon official Olivier Beer, continue to be wary of returning.
Most refugees, according to Beer, are unwilling to return because of the country’s deteriorating security situation. But he added that the C.A.R.’s military had pacified certain cities and villages.
According to a CARR official, the refugees would be reintegrated into society and their security and safety would be guaranteed.
Refugees going home to Cameroon would be protected by both sides’ troops according to Cameroon’s territory management minister, Paul Atanga Nji.
Nji claimed that C.A.R. rebels continue to cross into Cameroon in order to steal provisions and kidnap residents for ransom. He indicated that this is an issue.
“We must restate President Paul Biya’s directive that the refugees’ voluntary departure and the convoy’s full security be ensured. By the time our convoy reaches the C.A.R.’s border, Cameroon’s security forces [military] will be accompanying it, as will those from the adjacent nation [Cameroon] “Then, he said.
Violence broke out in the Central African Republic in 2013 after the Séléka, who are a minority rebel group comprised of Muslims, toppled then-President Francoise Bozize.
Civilians from the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) fled to Cameroon in January 2021 after occasional skirmishes following the presidential election.
More than a million Central Africans have fled to Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2013, according to the UN.
Volunteer C.A.R. refugee repatriation started in 2016 but it was put on hold in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 epidemic.