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Cameroonian Truckers Accuse Safety Escorts in C.A.R. of Abandoning Attacked Convoys | Voice of America

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON – Cameroonian truck drivers this week accused security escorts in troubled Central African Republic (CAR) of abandoning convoys when rebels attacked them. Drivers say hundreds of trucks are stuck in Cameroon until CAR and UN authorities can better ensure their safety.

According to drivers, hundreds of trucks have stranded in the eastern town of Garoua Boulay on the border with the Central African Republic and cannot deliver the goods they need due to a lack of security.

Forces from the Central African Republic and the United Nations Multi-Dimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission, MINUSCA, have provided security conferences for the convoys.

Cameroon’s Land Freight Transport Office, El Hadj Oumarou, Yaounde, February 24, 2021 (Moki Edwin Kindzeka / VOA)

However, the head of Cameroon’s overland freight transport office, El Hadj Oumarou, said there had been four rebel attacks this week on convoys traveling to the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui.

Oumarou says all strategies to protect trucks, truck drivers and goods in the territory of the Central African Republic should be reviewed, “Oumarou said.” Just this week, some (escort) troops fled heavy shots from rebels in the Central African Republic and abandoned drivers and their trucks between Garoua Boulaye and Bangui. According to Oumarou, some of the drivers were wounded, some goods were diverted and all of the trucks were going back to Cameroon.

Idrissou Manga, an official with the Cameroon Truck Drivers Union in Garoua Boulaye, said nine drivers suffered minor injuries.

He said more than 900 trucks stationed in Garoua Boulaye are refusing to transport humanitarian aid to Bangui until the security situation improves.

Manga spoke to Garoua Boulay through a messaging app.

He says his union is for Cameroonian drivers. However, due to the hardship in Garoua Boulaye, Manga said they had decided to give a hand of community to drivers from the Central African Republic and Chad. He says the union is giving truckers food, water and toiletries.

The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of the Central African Republic, Arnaud Djoubaye-Abazene, visited Cameroon this week to assess the traffic situation.

After meeting with the Cameroonian Transport Minister Jean Ernest Messina Ngale Bibehe on Monday, he denied that the CAR or UN troops had left the convoys.

The Cameroonian Transport Minister Jean Ernest Messina Ngale Bibehe, Yaounde, February 24, 2021. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka / VOA)

But he admitted that what he called “tactical retreats” was possible.

According to Abazene, President Faustin-Archange Touadera has taken appropriate measures to prevent the rebels who contested his election victory on December 27 from wreaking havoc in the Central African Republic, “Abazene said.” With the support of partners from the Central African Republic such as Russia. Rwanda and UN troops, many rebels were neutralized. Abazene said security is maintained in most of the cities of the Central African Republic, but there are still some pockets of resistance that the armed forces will deal with. He says drivers should trust the CAR government.

CAR Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation, Arnaud Djoubaye-Abazene in Yaounde, February 24, 2021. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka / VOA)

CAR Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation, Arnaud Djoubaye-Abazene in Yaounde, February 24, 2021. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka / VOA)

Abazane said despite the renewed attacks, a convoy of humanitarian and commercial supplies from Cameroon reached Bangui this week.

He assured truckers in Cameroon that adequate security measures were in place.

A UN peacekeeping mission spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. However, in a press release this week, MINUSCA acknowledged some challenges in accompanying the drivers.

The UN said this week that the volatile security situation in the Central African Republic is hampering aid supplies and has caused the price of staple foods to rise steadily since December.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), by February 16, around 110,000 Central Africans had fled the violence that erupted in the December 27 elections.

According to the UNHCR, 6,100 Central African Republic civilians fled to Cameroon, 7,400 to Chad, 4,300 to the Congo and 92,000 to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Central African Republic has accused former President Francois Bozize, whose candidacy for the presidential election was rejected, of attempting a coup.

He denies organizing rebel attacks in December that were repulsed by UN troops.

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