NGOs are exaggerating the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Cameroon’s two war-torn English-speaking regions in a bid “to make business,” an official said on Thursday.
“I read a public document recently published by an NGO saying that we have more than 400,000 internally displaced people in Cameroon. That is total misinformation and I can say it’s fake news,” Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji told a press conference here in the capital city.
“It is unfortunate that some partners want to use the situation to make business. Inflating the number of IDPs presents another danger which can even jeopardize the sovereignty of the state,” he added.
Nji’s statement came after Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based NGO, reported that close to 500,000 people have been displaced internally in the two war-torn English-speaking regions.
“Statistics from administrative authorities and serious NGOs working in collaboration with government show that there are about 152,000 internally displaced people in the northwest and southwest regions and about 6,000 internally displaced in the west, central and littoral regions,” Nji said, adding that 75,000 IDPs have been assisted by the government.
Armed separatists have been clashing with government forces in the two Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest since November 2017, seeking to secede from French-majority Cameroon and create a new nation called “Ambazonia.”