GENEVA, Switzerland, March 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — This weekend IOM organized four evacuation flights from Cameroon at the request of the Malian government for 672 Malians stranded by the conflict in Central African Republic (CAR.)
Malian Ambassador to Gabon, Dagnoko Diadié, and a Malian Embassy representative went to Kenzou, Cameroon on the CAR border, where over 12,000 migrants are stranded, to identify Malian citizens and to support the IOM effort.
In Kenzou, 261 Malians were stranded with minimal humanitarian support, most living out in the open without shelter or adequate supplies.
Their journey to Kenzou had begun om Bangui and other locations in CAR – a dangerous road trip due to numerous armed groups and checkpoints en route.
IOM rented nine buses and one truck for the Malians to travel the 816 kilometers from Kenzou to Cameroon’s Douala airport. The Cameroonian government provided a military escort. Another 411 Malians were already in Douala, sheltering at the Military Airport Transit Site.
Early Sunday morning (2/3), the IOM charter flights began to transport the Malian migrants from Douala to the Malian capital Bamako.
Many Malians fleeing CAR are traders and the evacuees left with only what they could carry. Everything else was left behind, including work tools and their stock.
On arrival in Bamako, they were exhausted and face an uncertain future. Many have lived in CAR for decades. Their resettlement will require finding housing and new livelihoods.
The approximately 12,000 remaining migrants and Central Africans stranded in Kenzou are receiving little to no humanitarian assistance and continue to live out in the open without tents or mosquito nets.
This stranded population includes 8,000 Chadians. IOM is planning a convoy next week to repatriate Chadians who are in Garua Boulai, Cameroon, just across the CAR border. Another convoy is planned to travel from Kenzou to Moundou, in southern Chad, a distance of 1,000 km.
The cost of the four Malian evacuation flights was covered by IOM’s revolving Migration Emergency Funding Mechanism (MEFM.)