Family Of 8 Cameroonian Refugees Found Dead In Ikom

In Breaking News, Health, International News

By Jonathan Ugbal

A family of eight have died from suspected inhalation of generator fumes in Ikom local government area of central Cross River State.

The octet are said to comprise of the father, mother and six children.

A source said the parents went to get relief materials and NGN25,000 cash each on Thursday last week and went straight to the market to get some needs.

“They went to the market and bought foodstuffs and fuel for their generator. They came back, prepared their meal and ate, turned on the generator and that was it,” a source aware of the incident told CrossRiverWatch on phone.

No one noticed their absence till Saturday when a stench from their apartment got neighbors wondering what had happened and after a brief unofficial meeting, agreed to breach the door.

“They were found dead and the conclusion was that it was the generator’s fumes because it was close to the house,” the source added.

A crackdown by the authorities on the anglophone speaking regions of Cameroon has caused over twenty thousand to flee to Nigeria with more than half currently refugees in Ikom, Obudu, Obanliku and Etung local government areas in Cross River State.

The Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has at several times criticised the silence of the international community on the matter.

However, millions have been spent by the state to provide relief for the refugees.

But, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR is currently providing services for the refugees.

And, the health concern of the refugees has been a topical issue while the social implications of their stay has been a major concern with many nongovernmental organisations (NGO) focusing on only the health concerns.

For instance, the Health Initiatives For Safety And Stability In Africa (HIFASS) had signed a six month agreement with UNHCR for the facilitation of healthcare for refugees between the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare centers through a referral method.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed with primary health providers in the areas where refugees are camped and provided them with referral notes which will aid the refugees in accessing healthcare services, with bills to be paid by HIFASS a statement on the NGO’s website said.

The project manager of the UNHCR/HIFASS-PACR, Asimobi Chidiebere, had said the referral notes and coupons would take care of emergencies and prevent unnecessary bottle-necks, as far as the health of refugees is concerned in Cross River and Benue States.

“If we have an easy system in place, the refugees can be assured of primary health care and, where they cannot get it, they get referral notes to a secondary health facility.

“So far, deliveries, minor and major surgeries have been carried out by the health centres. The process will get better,” Asimobi assured.

A training for first responders was also given to health care providers by a combined team from the United Nations Population Fund, Cross River State government and the Nigerian Red Cross society.

Healthcare providers say these trainings and agreements, especially that of HIFASS are necessary to properly take care of the refugees.

The Chief Medical Director of the Holy Family Hospital, Ikom, Dr Ewang Patrick, said the HIFASS arrangement would ease the stress of always having to deal directly with refugees who have no token or cannot take care of themselves, as far as healthcare is concerned.

“We are ready to work with HIFASS to give the refugees the care they deserve. I am glad we have now fashioned a system which should take care of things,” he said.

However, Mr. Ayade while receiving a delegation from the federal government and the UNHCR in his office earlier in the year, complained about the social implications of the refugees presence and their integration.

Meanwhile, residents of host communities fear the spread of diseases including HIV/AIDS which statistics show Ikom has one of the largest populations of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, a phenomenon critics argue is due to weak immigration systems and blame the refugees for the crisis.

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