Africa: UN Censures 'Heinous Attacks' in Lake Chad Basin

4 August 2020

The Secretary-General strongly condemned "heinous attacks" against civilians in the Lake Chad Basin, a UN spokesperson said on Monday.

"The attacks led to the killing and abduction of many civilians, including women, children and displaced people who had fled violence", Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a statement, referring to assaults in the Lac Province of Chad and the Far North Region of Cameroon on 31 July and 2 August, respectively.

News reports pinned responsibility for this most recent aggression in the troubled region on Boko Haram jihadists.

Mr. Haq spelled out that "those responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable".

"International human rights law and international humanitarian law must be fully respected and all civilians in Cameroon and Chad must be protected", he stressed on behalf of the UN chief.

In conclusion, the spokesperson upheld the UN's "steadfast" support to the countries of the Lake Chad Basin in their efforts "to overcome the scourge of terrorism, and address the security, political, humanitarian and socio-economic challenges in the region".

Internally displaced targeted

In separate coverage on Tuesday morning, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) expressed outrage over an "unprovoked and brutal attack" on 800 internally displaced people (IDPs) in a makeshift camp in Cameroon's Far North region.

"At least 18 people were killed and 11 injured in the incident during the early hours of Sunday 2 August", UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists on Tuesday at a regular press briefing in Geneva.

While some of the wounded were evacuated to Mokolo district hospital, an hour's drive from Nguetchewe, another 1,500 people, including terrified residents of the hosting village, fled to the nearby town of Mozogo for safety.

"UNHCR is deploying an emergency mission to assess the situation and evaluate the protection and health needs of those affected, Mr. Baloch updated.

Spiraling situation

This attack follows a significant rise in violent incidents in Cameroon's Far-North Region in July, including looting and kidnapping by Boko Haram and other armed groups active in the region.

The Far North region, tucked between Nigeria's Borno and Adamawa states and Lake Chad, currently hosts 321,886 IDPs and 115,000 Nigerian refugees.

The UNHCR spokesperson called this incident "a sad reminder of the intensity and brutality of the violence in the wider the Lake Chad Basin region that has forced more than three million people to flee".

"UNHCR calls on all actors to respect the civilian and humanitarian character of IDP camps, and to respond promptly to the urgent needs of people who have fled violence and suffered multiple displacements", concluded the UN refugee agency's spokesperson.

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