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Cameroonians are opting farming to stay away from Boko Haram

Cameroon is a neighbor to Nigeria where Boko Haram thrives. Ibrahim Hamaoua, traditional ruler of Zamai, said the assistance has reduced delinquency among the 30,000 people he leads.

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Local women in Cameroon. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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Cameroon is a neighboring country of Nigeria. Boko Haram -an Islamic terrorist organization -has wreaked havoc in Nigeria and is spilling over to other African countries.

Cameroonian Yeguie Issa says he has not seen his only brother since they were contacted a year ago by visitors to their village and were offered $500 per month to join Boko Haram.

Issa, 29, did not accept the offer and now takes care of his poultry farm in Cameroon’s Zamai village, near the northern town of Mokollo. He got started with the help of chickens provided by the government and farming advice from U.N. staff.

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Cameroon borders Nigeria. Wikimedia Commons

As a result, Issa said, he is financially and physically more stable, and he can provide for his wife, three children, and 72-year-old mother — and peers no longer jeer at him for being unable to take care of his family.

Issa is one of several hundred people who have benefited from the U.N. initiative to steer youths away from Boko Haram, which has frequently attacked northern Cameroon over the past three years.

 Cameroon soldiers stand guard at a lookout post near the village of Fotokol as they take part in operations against the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, Feb. 25, 2015.

The coordinator of the U.N. system in Cameroon, Najad Rochdi, said the goal of the initiative is helping the area’s economy grow despite the continued violence.

Because the region was tragically and dramatically impacted by insecurity on the one hand and extreme violence, on the other hand, it was very important to provide the enabling environment for the revival of the local economy, capitalizing on the know-how of the people in the region,” Rochdi said. “Obviously, the know-how here is about agriculture, handicraft, agropastoral activities.”

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Military exercise, Wikimedia commons

Japan contributes

Cameroon has provided $4 million in emergency funds to create jobs for youths on its northern border with Nigeria, where the unemployment rate is over 90 percent. Japan has contributed $2 million to the U.N. for the second phase of the project, focused on the entire conflict zone in Cameroon.

Ibrahim Hamaoua, traditional ruler of Zamai, said the assistance has reduced delinquency among the 30,000 people he leads.

Hamaoua said he was grateful to the U.N. Development Program and the government of Cameroon for initiating the resilience project and constructing a livestock market to supply protein to both internally displaced persons and refugees. The project has boosted the local economy and improved the living conditions of the population that grow livestock, he said.

About a hundred meters from Issa’s poultry farm, Hamza Falama waters his one-hectare garden. He said the produce villagers grow — maize and sorghum during the rainy season, carrots, and cabbages during the dry season — enable them to send their children to school, take care of their health needs, feed their families and save for difficult moments.

Cameroon hopes to see more gardens grow, and fewer difficult moments in the north, in order to weaken Boko Haram. (VOA)

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With The End Of Sea Rescue Operations, Migrants Death Will Increase: U.N.

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 2,100 people have died making the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Europe this year.

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Refugees, Migrants
Lifejackets piled on this Greek beach have come to stand for the rigors and danger that migrants face trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. VOA

Leading U.N. humanitarian agencies warn migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea will multiply with the end of sea and rescue operations by Doctors Without Borders and its partner SOS Mediterranee.

The two international charities were pressured by the European Union to put their ship, the Aquarius into dry dock and abandon their life-saving rescue mission.

The Aquarius has been docked in Marseille, France, since early October after Panama revoked its registration at the behest of the right-wing, anti-immigration Italian government.

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In this Aug. 27, 1994 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard crew from the cutter Staten Island are hindered by rough seas in the Florida Straits as they attempt to rescue Cuban refugees. VOA

Italy claims these operations encourage migrants to make the perilous sea journey. It says ending these activities will save lives, a claim hotly disputed by U.N. officials.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman, Shabia Mantoo, says search-and-rescue capacity needs to be reinforced rather than diminished.

“So, we do continue to call strongly for increasing search-and-rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean and for leaving space for NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) to contribute in a coordinated manner to these efforts,” said Mantoo. “Saving lives is our primary concern.”

Since it began operations in February 2016, the Aquarius has helped nearly 30,000 refugees and migrants in distress find a safe haven. U.N. Human Rights Spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, tells VOA she is deeply concerned by recent developments.

Refugees, Migrants
Representational Image of Refugees. Wikimedia Commons.

“The provision of support and assistance to migrants must not be criminalized,” said Shamdasani. “The decrease of search-and-rescue by humanitarian organizations and States failure to provide adequate search-and-rescue capacity is resulting in an increase of migrants, an increase of vulnerability of migrants at sea.”

Also Read: Refugees’ Entitled To Claim The Right To Asylum in The U.S: U.N.

Shamdasani says the death rate in the Central Mediterranean this year is much higher than in previous years. She says States must protect the lives and safety of migrants and ensure those who are at risk are rescued and offered immediate assistance.

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 2,100 people have died making the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Europe this year. This is nearly two-thirds of the more than 3,300 deaths recorded globally in 2018. (VOA)