Marking World Refugee Day, June 20, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, is calling on host communities to show more sympathy and love for those fleeing crises in their home country and who are now threatened by COVID-19.
The UNHCR says Cameroon is home to close to half a million refugees, mostly from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. Portraits of famous refugees adorn the walls of the annex building of the United Nations Refugee Agency in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé. Among the most famous is Somali-American supermodel Iman, who became a refugee in 1972, Jamaican singer Bob Marley and Hong Kong-born film actor Jackie Chan. UNHCR says the exhibition is designed to encourage refugees who have given up hope.
The U.N. agency says people displaced from their countries by conflict can succeed in life if they work hard. The refugee agency says Cameroon, with a population of around 25 million, is now home for close to 2 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced Cameroonians seeking refuge. Among the 2 million are about half a million refugees, 322,000 of whom are fleeing violence in the neighboring Central African Republic and 117,000 are Nigerians escaping Boko Haram terrorism.
Others are from Niger and Chad. When Cameroon reported its first cases of COVID-19 in March of last year, the UNHCR made protecting refugees a priority. Cameroon said it deployed mobile health workers to test the refugees for COVID-19 in remote areas.