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Food Aid in Cameroon’s Refugee Camps Replaced by Mobile Money; Allow Women to Rely Less on Husbands

Aid agencies in Cameroon introduced the cash-based transfer program in 2016 to increase the efficiency of refugee support

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Hope endures for cameroonian refugees in Nigeria seeking to return home. VOA

In refugee camps in Cameroon, food aid has been replaced by mobile money payments.  The system allows refugees to choose what food they buy and allows women to rely less on their husbands in the mostly polygamous society.

Djenaba Abdoulaye, a Central African Republic refugee in eastern Cameroon, no longer has to ask her husband for rations of food aid. Instead, she does her weekly shopping with aid money for refugees that was transferred directly to her mobile phone.

Djenaba says the program helped her a lot by giving her a lot of capabilities.  As she is in a polygamous home of three women, her husband used to take food for all of the family and shared it among the three wives.  Now, she says, each wife has her phone, benefits from the assistance for her children and herself and uses it as she wants.

Aid agencies in Cameroon introduced the cash-based transfer program in 2016 to increase the efficiency of refugee support. Before the transfer program, only the head of a refugee household – usually the husband – received the monthly rations of oil, salt, sugar, beans, and cassava flour.

The mobile payment system is not unique to Cameroon. But for the mostly polygamous C.A.R. refugees, it has been empowering because every wife is treated as head of a household and receives a monthly allowance. Nana Amoah is head of the local World Food Program office.

“WFP is currently assisting just about 48,000 refugees via cash-based transfer and one of the main reasons why cash is becoming more and more important in the humanitarian context for WFP – it gives the beneficiary the choice of food selected in a food basket that (is) available,” said Amoah.

The WFP provides refugees with a mobile phone and SIM card that accesses an electronic portfolio to receive the monthly allowances.

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The electronic transfer of aid has also helped male refugees, like local shopkeeper Mama Lamine. He says the program allowed him to take care of himself and to solve the problems of his family.  Now he no longer depends on food assistance, says Lamine, and can take care of his children’s school fees and equip his house.

While limited by telecommunications, the use of mobile cash transfers is expected to grow and give more refugees choices about what they do with the aid they receive. (VOA)

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Nigeria, Cameroon Vow to Tackle Terrorism

The Cameroon-Nigeria Transborder Security Committee has as prime objective strengthening border security for both countries. It was created in 2012 in Nigeria

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Cameroon and Nigeria agreed on Friday to take further measures to boost multifaceted cooperation in the fight against terrorism along their shared border. Wikimedia Commons

Nigeria has promised to assist Cameroon in combating the separatist crisis rocking the central African country’s English speaking region. The pledge, made during a security meeting, has been described by Cameroon authorities as reassuring, following accusations that separatist fighters in Cameroon were being trained in Nigeria, and that weapons they use are brought in through the neighboring country.

Brigadier General Emmanuel Adamu Ndagi, leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Cameroon-Nigeria transborder security meeting that ended in Yaounde Saturday, says his country has been seriously affected by the separatist crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

The closure of parts of the border has led to a sharp decline in food imports, like sorghum, rice and onions, to Nigeria on one hand, while basic commodities exported from Nigeria, like fuel, are hard to get into Cameroon. Ndagi says because of the security, economic and humanitarian threats caused by the separatist war, Nigeria will support Cameroon in bringing peace to its troubled regions.

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Delegates respect the Cameroon and Nigerian anthem during the Yaounde security meeting in Camerron, July 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

“The current political upheavals in that region will not be allowed to affect our cordial relations,” said Ndagi. “We will continue to support your efforts to bring lasting peace to the region. This will facilitate the return of Cameroonian refugees that have crossed the border into Nigerian territory. We must reduce vulnerabilities along our borders that are being exploited to perpetrate transnational organized crime notably terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons as well as piracy.”

When Cameroon declared war on the armed separatists in November 2017, it said gunmen were attacking border localities in Cameroon’s southwest and escaping to Nigeria, where some of them were trained. Nigeria denied the assailants were crossing over from its territory into Cameroon.

In January 2018, 47 separatists, including Ayuk Tabe Julius, head of a group from Cameroon’s Angolphone regions pushing for a breakaway from the French-dominant country, were arrested in Abuja, Nigeria, extradited and jailed in Cameroon.

Paul Atanga Nji, territorial administration minister and Cameroon’s leader of the delegation to the security meeting, says in spite of the collaboration, the separatists continue to use porous borders to import weapons through Nigeria, making the security situation very uncertain.

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Weapons used by separatist fighters suspected to have been made in Nigeria and brought into Cameroon, June 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

“The security situation along our common borders has all of a sudden become a cause for concern,” Nji said. “These threats take the following forms. Secessionist tendencies, illegal exploitation of natural resources, conflicts between boarder communities, highway robbery, drug and human trafficking, illicit trafficking of fire arms, agro pastoral conflicts etc.”

The UNHCR says that by December 2018 there were more than 32,000 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria’s Cross River state. Nigeria’s longest international border is with Cameroon. All along the 1,975 kilometer border there are violent crises. Nigeria’s northeast states of Borno and Adamawa continue to have Boko Haram terrorist attacks.

As the Yaounde security meeting was going on, Kildadi Taguieke Boukar, governor of Cameroon’s Adamaoua region that shares a boundary with Nigeria’s Taraba state, announced renewed conflicts with Nigerians escaping farmer-herder clashes to Cameroon.

“There is a conflict along some tribes in Nigeria’s Taraba state. About 100 people from Nigeria flee [have escaped] to our territory around Kontcha division [administrative unit and], there is agro-pastoral [farmer-herder] conflicts,” Boukar said.

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Paul Atanga Nji, head of Cameroon delegation (left) and Brigadier General Emmanuel Adamu Ndagi, leader of the Nigerian delegation (right) in Yaounde, Cameroon, July 6, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka/VOA)

Nigeria has not confirmed the renewed violence, but confrontations erupted last year in Cameroon’s Adamaoua region between farmers and Nigerian cattle ranchers who had escaped tribal wars in Taraba state.

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The Cameroon-Nigeria Transborder Security Committee has as prime objective strengthening border security for both countries. It was created in 2012 in Nigeria. Cameroon and Nigeria agreed on Friday to take further measures to boost multifaceted cooperation in the fight against terrorism along their shared border.

They did not disclose details of how their cooperation will be carried out, but they said they would share information regularly to stop terrorist activities including Boko Haram attacks and separatists fighting for the independence of an English-speaking sate in Cameroon. They said they would make it difficult for criminals to leave Nigeria for Cameroon and vice versa. (VOA)