World Refugee Day West Africa - Cameroon: learning to move on
(Jacquelyn Pavilon / Jesuit Refugee Service)

World Refugee Day West Africa - Cameroon: learning to move on

In 2003, refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) began fleeing to Cameroon to escape violence between armed factions who were looting and burning entire village, kidnapping and killing thousands of people in the process. Approximately 90,000 people from CAR fled to Cameroon during that time, and were welcomed into approximately 300 villages. Most arrived having lost everything.

However, when violence in CAR re-escalated in 2014, more than 140,000 additional people fled into Cameroon to escape atrocities. With so many people seeking refuge, the UN created seven refugee sites in eastern Cameroon to help accommodate the people arriving, but many still live in villages or informal sites.

The Jesuit Refugee Service current runs five schools in eastern Cameroon (in Kette and Boubara) which accommodate more than 3,300 students. These students are both refugees and local Cameroonians. By providing services to both groups, JRS helps facilitate integration and ensure that there is not a schism created in the society.

JRS besides providing access to education, JRS has three additional objectives: (1) to support the quality of teaching by providing teacher training and support; (2) to raise awareness among students about the importance of education; and (3) to increase participation of the parents and the local community in the school programmes. JRS hopes to expand into new sites in the coming years.

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