Farms are abandoned, banks and schools have closed across towns in northern Cameroon following violent cross-border attacks by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram this month.
Life in the north “has been disorganized, distorted,” Cameroon’s Communications Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said by phone from the capital, Yaounde, on Thursday. “Farmers can’t go to farm, children can’t go to school.
Our businessmen are finding it difficult to cross to Chad and Nigeria due to the possibility of attacks,” he said.
Cameroon’s remote north has been the scene of increased fighting between the military and members of Boko Haram, who have stepped up their campaign of violence ahead of Nigeria’s presidential elections in February. Cameroon and Nigeria share a 1,690-kilometer (1,050-mile) border that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Chad in the north.
It’s unknown how many people have fled the border area. Some residents have traveled to Yaounde, while others fled to neighboring Chad and Niger, according to Sulaiman Abdullahi, a resident of the border town of Amchide. “We have a large family in the region,” Abdullahi said by phone from Yaounde.