Dadji is a young mother from PK 13 in Bangui. She fled the violence 3 years ago to Chad. Dadji and her children decided to return to Kaga Bandoro recently. They haven’t received any food assistance for four months now.

"When we arrived we were given food, but since then nothing. We are forced to fetch wood from the bush and sell it to get something to eat.

We need help. Where we are, we don't have a school or a hospital.
The international community has forgotten us. For four months we have not received any help.

I am afraid because we are not safe, even in this camp. All over the country, when we sleep at night, we are afraid." Dadji said.

Date: 10th February 2021
Location: Mbela camp - Kaga Bandoro
Photo: Tom Peyre-Costa/NRC

Vi trenger din hjelp for å få slutt på stillheten

Hvor mye vet du om flyktningkrisene som herjer i Kamerun, i Kongo og i Venezuela?

Ikke sett. Ikke hørt. Ukjent.

Med mindre du er direkte påvirket av en av disse krisene, er antageligvis svaret: Veldig lite. Ikke fordi du ikke bryr deg, tvert imot. Du er en omsorgsfull person som virkelig bryr deg om mennesker som har måttet flykte fra hjemmene sine. Det er jo derfor du klikket på denne artikkelen.

Grunnen til at disse krisene er ukjente for deg, er fordi ingen har fortalt deg om dem.

Hva er en flyktningkrise – og hvorfor er noen glemt?

En flyktningkrise oppstår når store grupper av mennesker må flykte fra hjemmene sine, på grunn av konflikt, katastrofe eller forfølgelse. Når dette skjer mobiliserer vanligvis bistandsorganisasjonene, for å hjelpe de som trenger det.

Selv om nødhjelp skal være basert på behov og behov alene, får noen kriser mer oppmerksomhet og støtte enn andre. Det hele kommer an på en kompleks og ond sirkel, som starter med politisk vilje.

Det finnes kriser som har liten geopolitisk betydning for verdenslederne. Det kan komme av at konflikten som fører til flyktningstrømmen har liten sikkerhetsmessig påvirkning på ledernes egne land, og derfor er motivasjonen for å hjelpe liten.

Burkina Faso er et godt eksempel. I 2018 spredte voldelighetene i Mali seg til Burkina Faso. Dette førte til usikkerhet i store deler av landet. Sivile ble fanget i kryssilden, sulten økte dramatisk og Burkina Faso ble åsted for den raskest voksende flyktningkrisen i 2019.

Men fordi majoriteten av de fordrevne aldri krysset noen landegrenser, fikk krisen lite internasjonal oppmerksomhet. Befolkningen i Burkina Faso, som plutselig har fått livene sine snudd opp ned, lider alene.

I andre konflikter er situasjonen den stikk motsatte: Det er mange aktører med motstridende politiske interesser, og ingen er villige til å inngå kompromisser.

Krisetretthet

Så har man konfliktene som har pågått over lang tid. Så lang tid at folk blir lei av å høre om dem, og vanskelig ser for seg at noe kan gjøres for å forandre situasjonen.

Kongo er et eksempel på dette. Helt siden kolonitiden har Kongo blitt fremstilt som et voldelig sted. For eksempel i Joseph Conrads klassiske fortelling fra 1899, Heart of Darkness.

Når volden nå fører til store sultproblemer og flyktningstrømmer i det moderne Kongo, hever verden knapt et øyebryn. Ingen har hastverk med å få slutt på krisen, og Kongos innbyggere lider som et resultat av likegyldigheten.

Til slutt har vi media. Mangelen på mediedekning kan sees i sammenheng med mengden politisk oppmerksomhet en krise får. Hvis en krise sees på som irrelevant for det internasjonale samfunnet, vil media være mindre interessert i å dekke den.

Ute av syn, ute av sinn

Avstand og tilgang er også et tema. Kriser i avsidesliggende områder har mindre sjans for å nå overskriftene enn problemer nærmere hjemme. I tillegg er det steder som er både farlige og utfordrende å komme til. Da blir det vanskelig for journalister å få informasjon og materiale fra området, for å rapportere om krisen.

Dette er tilfellet i Kamerun. Organisasjonen Reporters Without Borders, som jobber for ytrings- og pressefrihet, rangerer landet på 135. plass av 180 land i sin World Press Freedom Index. Rapporten tar for seg arrestasjoner og forfølgelse av journalister, og forteller også at internett ofte stenges i deler av landet. Få internasjonale journalister har klart å komme seg inn til konfliktområdene der.

“When the crisis started I was going to school and at the same time helping my mom with her business. But, the fighting made things tough, business was tight, it was hard. I continued to go to school but the boys would come and meet us in school and beat us, then drive us away from school and force us to go back to the house. I have been beaten not once, not twice, but many times by those boys. They don’t want us to go to school, to make a future for ourselves and the society. If we go, they will beat you up and attack your family. So, I had to stop school because my family was really in danger,” Kelly, 21 years old, tells us when we meet her in November 2019.

The boys are what the armed separatists are called locally in the North West province. In 2016, as English-speaking lawyers, students and teachers began protesting what they saw as their cultural marginalisation and under-representation in the central government, the Government forces hit back with a hard hand. Several armed separatist groups emerged and eventually declared independence 1. October 2017. They called their new country Ambazonia. 

Kelly lived in a big compound with her mom, dad, her siblings and extended family. Her parents ran a business and they had a farm.

“I had many people around me back then, but due to the crisis I have just a few left.”

On 11. February 2016, on the National Youth Day, clashes were intense in her village. The separatist did not recognise the youth day and put up the Ambazonia flag and the military retaliated. 

“The military came to our compound. The gate was closed, but they climbed the fence and entered. They shot at anybody they saw, they never cared to know who was who, they were just shooting. My younger sister and myself were hiding under a bed. My uncle was also there and they just entered the room and shot him, thinking he was one of those boys. They shot him right in front of me and my sister. After that, there was no way we could sleep in the house, so we fled to the bush and slept there. In the morning we came back and took my uncle to the morgue to prepare the funeral. That’s when my mom and my dad decided that we should look for another way for me to go to school, because staying in the village, doing nothing, will not help me so it’s better I leave”.

Three months later, at the age of 18, Kelly left her home to go to Yaoundé. She found a place to live and started to work to save up money to continue her education and slowly built a new life for herself over the next three years. She felt safe again. Then, everything changed. 

“I lost my dad 5. November. This month. I was not in the village when it happened, but they told me that he got up at night to ease himself. We do not have a toilet inside the compound so he had to go outside. Unfortunately, he was shot that night. He was taken to the hospital, but they could not save him.”

Every bullet victim is automatically investigated in the area, so the police came to talk to the family and her mother tried to answer all their questions. They found out it was the separatists, the boys, who had shot him. The situation was very intense in the village in that period. Kelly travelled from Yaoundé to the village for the funeral and then quickly returned to the capital due to the fighting. 

Two days after her dad was killed, another crisis hit the family. Kelly’s older sister got kidnapped by the boys. The kidnappers asked for 2,5 million francs in ransom for the group. The family tried to raise 500 000 francs. Kelly gave 50 000 francs that she had managed to save during her time in Yaoundé. These were the money she would use for her school fees, but instead she had to spend them to pay for her dad’s funeral and now her sister’s kidnapping. Together, the family managed to find money and her sister was released. 

“My sister was badly beaten. All her body; wounds, wounds, wounds. Fortunately, she was not raped, because those boys don’t sleep with girls who have their period. So, that was the only way she was saved from those guys. It was a miracle.”

After Kelly’s sister was released, she fled for safety to Bamenda, a bigger town in the area, where she is trying to attend some classes now and then. Kidnappings for ransom have become a regular thing in the province. Armed separatist groups have killed, tortured, assaulted, and kidnapped dozens of people, including students, teachers, clergy, and administrative and traditional authorities.

“I think the boys are kidnapping because they need money to purchase weapons,” Kelly states.

While her sister was still missing, Kelly received yet another call, this time from an unknown number, telling her she had to come back to the village for an emergency. They did not say what had happened, just that she had to come as fast as she could. Kelly was afraid she would lose her job if she left so soon after she had just been away for her dad’s funeral, but had to go and risk it. 

“As I entered the compound, everyone was crying. The first thing I asked was ‘Where is my mom?’ Everybody was crying in silence. They asked me to sit down, but I said ‘No, I don’t want to sit down, I want to see my mom.’ Then they told me that my mom had passed away. I had a shock. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital. I spent two days there.”

“My mom was shot by those boys due to the investigation after my dad was killed. They know our house. They came inside our compound and asked for her. They shot her with four bullets to her body and left. No one else was shot. My mom was their main target. The boys were angry, because she spoke to the police. They don’t want us to have anything to do with the police.”

In less than a week, both Kelly’s parents had been killed. Her sister had been kidnapped. 

She did not feel safe. 

“At the funeral ground the boys kept looking at me. Just looking, looking, looking. I felt like I was going to be the next target. I had to leave the village, cause my life was in danger. It was a lot of gunshots. Everywhere. Everywhere! So, I managed to take the bush backroad and was lucky to find a taxi and I took it straight to Bamenda and then back here to Yaoundé. I told no one I was back. I just stayed inside for a week, mourning my mom and my dad. No school. No work. Just mourning them.”

In this period, she was also told to move out from the room she shared with a friend and this one’s sister who felt it had become too crowded. Now, Kelly needs to find a new place to rent, but with soaring housing process in the capital and her savings gone, it’s not an easy task. 

“I lost my dad. I lost my mom. My sister was kidnapped. So, all my savings are gone. I’m back to square one. Even to have a meal per day is difficult. I tried to get an advance from my boss. I tried to borrow money from friends so I can afford to move into a new place.”

Kelly now works in a school canteen five days a week. She leaves the house at 5am, works, comes back at 2pm. Rests for a little while, then goes to evening school until 9pm. At night she can seldom afford to eat, so she goes to bed and gets up again at 2am to study when the house is quiet. 

“I really need to go to school. Education is the key to life. Education is the highest thing. It was my parents’ dream for me, to go to school, to become something great in life that make you stand out in a population and talk like a woman. Even though they are no more, I have to work hard for myself and achieve my dreams.”

Kelly dreamt of becoming a lawyer, or a medical doctor, but now she is thinking accounting or management is more realistic. Or, play the American lottery and see if she can leave the country. 

“Even though it’s hard to lose two parents at the same time, it’s nothing I can do. All the things they used to do for me, I now need to do alone. It’s hell. But, this is what my fate has decided for me. I just need to move on with life.”

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC
Les billedteksten Kamerun: Begge foreldrene til “Kelly” ble skutt og drept, og søsteren ble kidnappet. Derfor er hun redd for å vise ansiktet sitt, og for å bruke sitt virkelige navn. Dette er vanlig i Kamerun, og betyr at mye av grusomhetene som begås mot sivile ikke blir fortalt om av internasjonale medier. Foto: Ingebjørg Kårstad/ Flyktninghjelpen

Til syvende og sist kommer det an på deg

Mediamaskineriet produserer innhold som de tror du vil ha. I fungerende demokratier responderer politikerne når velgerne deres er rasende og krever handling.

Derfor er det slik at jo mer du ser, hører og vet om de glemte krisene, jo mer vil politikere og media slutte å ignorere dem. Dette betyr igjen at flere vil få vite om krisene – og dermed bry seg. Vi må bli rasende over at millioner av mennesker lider alene, glemt av det internasjonale samfunn.

Vi kan ikke gjøre mye alene, men sammen kan vi få slutt på likegyldigheten.

Les mer om de glemte flyktningkrisene. 

***
Flyktninghjelpen ignorerer ikke disse krisene. Vi jobber hardt med de glemte krisene i verden, og hjelper mennesker i desperat nød.