I talked to mom this morning and they are heading up to work with the refugees this weekend, see article below:
INTERVIEW-Refugees stream from Central Africa to Cameroon
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By Tansa Musa YAOUNDE, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The United Nations in Cameroon appealed for more international help on Friday to cope with a growing influx of refugees fleeing unrest in Central African Republic (CAR), including hundreds of malnourished children. The refugees are mainly nomadic Mbororo cattle herders who have fled in waves from relentless attacks by rebels and bandits who kidnap civilians for ransom and steal livestock. “There has been a significant increase in the number of CAR refugees in Cameroon,” Jacques Franquin, the representative of U.N. refugee agency UNHCR in Cameroon, told Reuters. “When we started the food distribution operation in August there were 26,000. The number rose to 29,385 in September and 45,192 last month,” he said in an interview. Rag-tag rebel groups have fought an on-off bush war over the past two years across swathes of northern Central African Republic, a landlocked former French colony in the heart of Africa and one of the most underdeveloped nations on earth. Notoriously unstable, the country has seen 11 attempted coups or mutinies in the past decade alone. President Francois Bozize has signed peace pacts with at least two rebel groups this year but stability has proved elusive and villagers subjected to attacks by bandits and government soldiers have continued to flee. Franquin said around 10,000 of those in Cameroon were children under five. Around 1,800 of these were malnourished, some severely, and were in need of urgent attention. “The UNHCR has run out of funds as well as the World Food Programme (WFP) and (U.N. children’s agency) UNICEF which have been partners in the food distribution operation,” he said. He said UNHCR needed $1.5 million for 2008 while the WFP needed $3.5 million to boost its food aid. Some of the refugees had been targeted by armed gangs and renegade soldiers even after they fled their villages as they tried to escape over the border. UNICEF had set up five nutrition centres to provide treatment for malnourished children while UNHCR planned to dig 100 wells as the dry season sets in to supply water to villages spread over a vast area where the refugees have settled. Many of those crossing into Cameroon avoid being officially registered for fear of being repatriated and Franquin said he anticipated the influx would continue. “We foresee these people settling in eastern Cameroon for a long time. That is why there is need for more aid to develop a new coping mechanism which will enable them to become self-sufficient and integrate with local communities,” he said.