HUMANITARIAN organisations are alarmed by the spike in teenage pregnancies amid rape and gender violence in makeshift camps housing thousands of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria.
Women and children, worst affected by the violence, represent about 80 percent of the approximately 10 000 refugees that have fled a crackdown in English-speaking areas of Cameroon and settled in Nigeria’s Cross River State.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed shock that teenage pregnancies involving girls aged as young as 14, have been reported.
“UNHCR is concerned that many more incidents go unreported or are referred only to community elders,” spokesman William Spindler, said.
Spindler said for women, the lack of work combined with the over-stretched reception facilities, created a higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly from survival sex.
Unaccompanied and separated children are particularly affected by difficult access to food and the lack of subsistence opportunities.
UNHCR reported numerous incidents where children have to work or beg to survive or to help their families. Many children are unable to attend school, as they lack both the time and funds for education.
English-speaking Cameroon is beset by protests in English-speaking regions. Communities allege marginalisation by the government dominated by French speakers.
A vicious response by government forces has led to scores of deaths and massive displacements. UNHCR is currently working with Nigerian authorities to identify sites away from the border, where refugees can be hosted according to international standards.
– CAJ News