By; VITALIS.UGOH, Calabar
The hope of traumatized Cameroon refugees in Okwangwo, a border community in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State have been renewed following the receipt of the first relief materials since arrival about three months ago.
The materials were donated by an Akwa Ibom State based NGO known as “Collective Development Initiative”(CDI) in collaboration with the Akwa Ibom State Enterprise and Employment Scheme, AKEES, pencils and toothpick production arm.
The materials include, rice, noodles, soap, detergent, flakes, biscuit, notebooks and pencils.
The team arrived Okwangwo after a two-hour journey on motorbikes through a road path that cannot be accessed by any other form of vehicular transportation were received amidst jubilation by the suffering refugees.
The road which transversed the National Park, Okwangwo canopied by virgin forest is in such a deplorable state that even on motorbike most of the journies were made by trekking due to its rocky and slippery nature.
Presenting the materials on-behalf of the duo, the executive director of Collective Development Initiative, CDI Ambassador Aniefiok Jimmy, said that the donation was born out of the feelings for the sufferings of the Cameroon refugees and the burden of the host community in caring for them for the past three months without help from any quarters.
He said that it was disheartening to observe that over two hundred children of school age were out of school on account of the displacement while their parents could barely fend for themselves.
Jimmy regretted that the world was not adequately in tune with the humanitarian crisis in Okwangwo and some other communities hosting the Cameroon refugees hence the lukewarm response to their ugly situation.
He appealed said it behooved on all humanitarian stakeholders especially the United Nations, the state and federal governments of Nigeria to effectively intervene in the crisis, which he feared, may degenerate further if left under attended to.
The executive director promised to mobilize for more relief materials, as the token donated was just a preamble and an opportunity to properly access the refugee’s situation.
Collaborating, the General Manager of the Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme AKEES, manufacturers of pencils and toothpick, Mr. Bassey Friday ,said that his company would take particular interest in the education of the children by providing more notebooks and pencils to them.
In a remark, the Director General, Cross-River State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA Mr. John Inaku, commended the team for the magnanimity and acknowledged that the donation was a booster to the hope of the refugees.
He said that over three hundred refugees were in Okwangkwo and that, several thousands were also in Ukwa one and two as well as Bashu communities in Boki who have not been captured in the ongoing registration.
The Director-General however assured the refugees that both the state and federal governments were concretizing plans to intervene soon.
Receiving the relief materials on-behalf of the refugees, the chairman of the Okwangkwo community, Chief Cyprian Oki, described the donation as a relief not only to the refugees but to the community who have been fending for them since arrival.
Oki said the difficulty of caring for them increases daily that prompted the community to permit the adult refugees to freely harvest for sale forest fruit and vegetables for their upkeep and called for urgent intervention.
He enumerated challenges faced by the refugees to include feeding, accommodation, clothing and beds.
In an interview, the deputy head master of government primary school, Okwangwo Mr. Odu Francis Ajah , said that the institution had admitted three hundred and thirty six pupils and prayed for intervention in the areas of schools fees and uniforms.
One of the refugees, Mrs. Clara Bassey, a mother of three alleged that her husband was killed in the crisis and had been passing through difficulties in fending for the children.
She lamented that many of the women were passing through such problems and hoped for succour from well-spirited individuals and organization in the country.
It would be recalled that there has been political crisis in the country since three months ago.