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AFRICA: More Than 100 Rescued Migrants Stranded in Cameroon (PHOTOS)

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Stranded migrants in Ebodje, Cameroon, Aug. 3, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka, VOA)

EBODJE, SOUTHERN CAMEROON (VOA News) – More than 100 migrants from Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Benin are stranded in Cameroon after they were rescued by the central African state’s military from their capsizing vessel in the Atlantic Ocean. The migrants, who are calling on their governments for help, say they do not have food or money.

One-hundred-seventeen men, women and children lie on the bare floor at the government school in Ebodje, a Cameroon village on the west coast of Africa near the Atlantic Ocean.

Stranded migrants in Ebodje, Cameroon, Aug. 3, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka, VOA)

Christian Djongo, village chief of Ebodje, says officials have been looking after the unexpected visitors for five days.

He says on July 29, his community joined the Cameroon military to save the lives of the migrants from the sea. He says immediately after removing them from their vessel that was almost capsizing, the community gave them clothing, coffee and food. He says townspeople are now hoping for assistance from the government because they no longer have food for the stranded migrants.

Christian Djongo, village chief of Ebodjevillage says they need help to take care of the migrants, Aug. 3, 2019. ( Moki Kindzeka, VOA)

They say their vessel, nicknamed Ave Maria, left Ghana for Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and had on board 65 people from Burkina Faso, 41 from Togo, a man from Nigeria, three people from Benin and seven crew members from Ghana. There were 43 women and 24 children.

The vessel ran out of fuel at sea in Cameroon territorial waters and was rescued after several hours by the Rapid Intervention Battalion of Cameroon’s military and fishermen.

Witnesses said some migrants dove into the sea in an attempt to swim to safety and were rescued by local fishermen.

No deaths were reported but since the ordeal, the vessel’s crew is requesting additional payment from passengers to refuel the boat and most of the migrants say they can’t pay.

Twenty-seven-year-old Burkinabe migrant Ali Rachid says he was struggling to find his way to Spain through Equatorial Guinea.

He says it is easier to travel to Spain through Equatorial Guinea because the central African state enjoys good diplomatic relations with its former colonial master and the two countries have Spanish as their official language. He says from Spain, he has dreams of traveling to any other European country.

Thirty-two-year-old Benin migrant Raoul Amadi says he left Ghana for Gabon, where he was told by a relative who had been there for five months that he could get a job as an electrician. He says after observing the difficult conditions they went through at sea, he now wants to return home.

Vessel that transported the migrants is said to be from Ghana, Aug. 3, 2019, in Ebodje, Cameroon. ( Moki Kindzeka, VOA)

Amadi says he no longer wants to continue with the vessel and is pleading with his government to help him and his peers to return home.

Leonie Legouda, a resident of Ebodji, says since the migrants arrived in his village, life has become more difficult.

“Their presence here is a nuisance to the whole community. They are harvesting our crops and stealing our fowl and goats. They should leave now,” Legouda said.

Most of the migrants had no travel documents, but were identified through national identity cards. Some of the travelers want to return to their countries of origin, while others want to go to Ghana. Cameroon’s military says it has opened an investigation.

Fate of Refugees and Migrants in Recently Shut Libyan Detention Centers of Concern

FILE – After a detention center was bombed, remaining structures appeared unstable and, five days later, migrants were still sleeping outdoors in Tripoli, Libya, July 7, 2019.

GENEVA – The U.N. refugee agency welcomes the closure of three detention centers in Libya but voices concern about the whereabouts and fate of the refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who were held in the facilities.

The U.N. refugee agency has been advocating for the release of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from Libya’s detention centers for a long time. And, so it says it is pleased that three of the country’s largest facilities–Mistrata, Tajoura and Khoms–have been shut.

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However, UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic tells VOA he has no idea what has happened to the inmates.

“To our knowledge, there are 19 official detention centers run by the authorities that are currently active in Libya with nearly 5,000 refugees and migrants that are arbitrarily detained there,” Mahecic said.

Mahecic says UNHCR is closely following developments. He says refugees should not be put in detention. In Libya, he says people held in facilities near battle zones are at particular risk, as was seen in the tragic events that unfolded in Tajoura last month.

The Tajoura detention center on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli was hit by an airstrike on July 2. More than 50 people, including children were killed and 130 injured. The vast majority were sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach Europe.

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The move was triggered by the deadly July 5 bombing of the Tajoura detention center on the outskirts of Tripoli

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, says the attack could amount to a war crime. Mahecic says children should never be locked up and, in all cases, detention should only be a measure of last resort.

“What we are calling on now is for an orderly release of all refugees in detention centers to urban settings and we stand ready to provide these people with assistance through our urban programs that would include some form of financial assistance, medical and psycho-social support,” Mahecic said.

The United Nations describes Libyan detention centers as appalling, overcrowded places. It says detainees are denied sufficient food and medical care and are subject to abusive treatment, including torture and rape.

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: August 03, 2019 at 06:18PM

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