Cameroonians flee as violence intensifies prior to elections
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Cape Town - A number of villagers in Cameroon have fled the country’s northwest region to neighbouring Nigeria ahead of next month’s legislative and municipal elections, as separatists continue threatening to disrupt the polls.
There has been concern about election fairness as violence escalates in the English-speaking northwestern and southwestern regions. Separatists have been clashing with the country's military while citizens are caught in the midst of the violence.
The country is set to vote on February 9, with government having itself threatened to hit back hard and "crush" the separatists.
A pastor at True Faith Ministries in the Nigerian border village of Atta has told an international publication that more than 70 Cameroonian Christians - the majority of them women and children - fled to the church in the past two weeks to escape the violence.
"These are Christians with very different experiences. You have Christians who are yet to trace their loved ones, you have many separated children in church," the pastor told Voice of America (VOA) News.
"You have so many unaccompanied children. You know, you cannot just minister to them without helping them to get food to eat and then find something to do," he said.
Last week, Njong Evaristus Ndim, a member of the main opposition Social Democratic Front, told Turkey-based Anadolu Agency that the elections would not be free and fair.
In the country's northwestern regions, alleged Ndim, the offices of Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), which is in charge of running the ballot, were not functional.