DEVELOPING REPORT| AFCON 2024: Tensions Rise in Ogoja Refugee Settlement for Cameroonians

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Ogoja, Cross River state – Recent tensions between Cameroonian refugees and the host community in Adagom 1, Ogoja, Cross River North, have escalated, leading to violence and property destruction. This conflict comes at a time when the Cameroonian refugees, residing in the settlement, have increasingly reported feeling unsafe.

According to reports gathered by NEGROIDHAVEN, the situation worsened significantly during the just concluded African Cup of Nations which held in Ivory Coast between 13th January to 11th February 2024. A viewing center set up for the refugees by a refugee became a flashpoint when the refugees supported the Cameroon team while local Nigerians supported their national team. This divergence in support led to a physical altercation, resulting in the destruction of property belonging to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

Refugees have expressed their dissatisfaction with the handling of the situation by SEMA staff, who are largely from the local community. Accusations have been made against SEMA staff for prioritizing local interests over the welfare of the refugees, which has exacerbated tensions. Additionally, there have been disturbing reports of SEMA staff physically assaulting refugees, including incidents where refugees were attacked with bottles of alcoholic beverages.

Two days ago, the situation took a violent turn when members of the host community allegedly attacked the refugees. The incident was severe enough that refugees felt compelled to report the matter to both the police and the state government, yet they still feel unheard and unsafe.

Efforts by local authorities to mediate and resolve these issues have so far been ineffective. The state government’s current approach does not seem to address the core concerns of the refugees, leaving them desperate for a solution.

In light of these unresolved issues, the refugees are now seeking to bring their plight to a broader audience by engaging with the media. They believe that escalating the matter publicly might pressure the relevant authorities to take more decisive action to ensure their safety and well-being.

The situation remains tense, and with the African Cup of Nations haven come to an end, there are concerns about further conflicts. There is an urgent need for effective intervention to prevent more violence and ensure that both the refugees and the host community can coexist peacefully.

NEGROIDHAVEN, who as at press time was yet to contact officials of SEMA and representatives of the Cameroonian refugees, will continue to monitor the developments and provide balanced updates as the story unfolds.