Boko Haram raids into Cameroon force thousands out of school

Children in conflicts

Soulemanu Abba used to go to school every day in his home town of Fotocol in Cameroon. Now he spends his days helping his uncle to sell petrol.

Across the river, just 300 yards away, is the Nigeria village of Gamboru. And over the border come Boko Haram gunmen, spreading their reign of terror into neighbouring Cameroon.

As a result, tens of thousands of children are out of school – including Soulemanu, who fled his home in October and moved to Maroua. Like many others, he has to work to help his families survive.

The 15-year-old told IRIN News: “It was easy for me to go school when I was in Fotocol because my parents and friends were present and we had enough money to support my education. But since I came here I now have to work to afford food for myself.”

Another former student affected is Mouktar Ismaila, 17, who now drives a motorcycle taxi. He said: “I wish I could continue school because this is not a job I intended to support my life with. Many of us are school dropouts, some fleeing Boko Haram and others don’t just want school.”

Refugee children out of school in Cameroon Picture: UNHCR

More than 120 schools in Cameroon have been closed because of Boko Haram’s increasing attacks from Nigeria. More than 30,000 children are missing out on education because they have been internally displaced – and another 74,000 Nigerians who have fled into Cameroon since March are also out of school.

A World at School told in June 2014 how students at the high school in Fotocol were living in fear of Boko Haram. Stray bullets had whizzed through the school yard and mortar shells had fallen nearby.

In May last year, 300 people in Gamboru were murdered by Boko Haram 

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said almost 100,000 people in Cameroon had fled their homes and there had been at least 18 attacks by Boko Haram since the start of 2015.

A UNHCR report last month said that in the three worst-affected areas near the Nigerian border 60% of schools have been abandoned and 30% occupied by displaced people. The others have been destroyed or looted during attacks.

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