By Dianabasi Effiong
No fewer than 2,000 people have further been displaced by a devastating windstorm which ravaged a school block serving as refugee camp for Bakassi returnees in Cross river.
The building, located in St Mark’s Primary School, Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem, Akpabuyo Local Government Area, was used as a temporary camp since March 7, 2013 by the returnees.
According to Mr David Akate, Assistant Director (Information), Cross River Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the storm which blew off a four-classroom block exposed more than 2000 returnees to inclement weather.
“The rains that accompanied the storm aggravated their problems as the returnees which included women and children were in-undated.
Mattresses, sleeping mats, cloths and other personal belonging were soaked making life unbearable for the people. Also pathetic was the destruction of food stuff such as garri, rice beans, salt and other perishable items subjecting the returnees to an unprecedented trauma.
Mattresses, clothes, mats, foodstuff were spread out in the sun to dry,’’ akate told journalists.
The Camp Coordinator, Mr Okon Ene, said that it was a pathetic scenario.
“We had to gather the children and women to some safer corners while the men had to work throughout the night trying to salvage then property,’’ he said.
Assessing the damage the Director-General, SEMA, Mr Vincent Aquah, said frantic arrangements were being made to relocate the returnees to a safer area. He said that the windstorm also affected other areas in Cross River. According to him, 73 houses were affected in Akpabuyo while Ogoja had 497 houses destroyed.
He said that 403 houses were wrecked in Boki, 33 buildings in Obudu, 23 in and Etung 23, adding that 12,000 people were displaced across the state.
About 2,000 people had on March 7 fled to Ikot Eyo Edem in Akpabuyo, a Nigeria–Cameroon border community, following harassment by the Cameroonian authorities.
The Cameroonian authorities had allegedly forced them out of their ancestral home, Efut Obot Ikot, in the ceded Bakassi peninsula.
Africa News Circle