Ruthless violence between francophone state forces and English-speaking separatists has forced tens of thousands of Cameroonians into Nigeria, splintering families and leaving many people sleeping rough, without access to staples such as food, clothing and education

Photographs: Sam Phelps/Caritas. Interviews: Harriet Paterson/Caritas

“You can’t sleep,” says bishop Andrew Nkea, of the Mamfe diocese in south-west Cameroon. “Even with all the stamina I have from my faith, I couldn’t sleep when I went to Kembong and saw the houses that had been burned down … I saw a corpse which had been lying there for four, five days, and dogs were tearing it apart.”

A deadly conflict in Cameroon sparked by increasing tensions between English and French-speaking populations has driven tens of thousands from their homes. At least 160,000 people are displaced inside Cameroon, and more than 21,000 have fled to Nigeria to escape what has been described by bishops as “blind, inhuman, monstrous violence”. Most have settled in Cross River State.

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