Four die at African gold site
Four die as Gabon expels 3,000 African miners at gold site
By Bisong Etahoben in Yaounde
12 June 2011
Four persons are reported to have died as Gabonese gendarmes forced more than three thousand African migrants out of a gold mining site.
The dead were reported to be a Cameroonian whose name was given as Laurent Menyengue, a Nigerien, a Malian, and a child whose nationality remained unclear.
According to the sub-divisional officer for Djoum in Cameroon's South Region, Jean-Lazare Ndongo Ndongo, the four died from fatigue after trekking 200 kilometres from the Gabonese gold-mining town of Minkebe.
The Nigerien national, who had lost his identification documents as he fled, drowned in the Ayina river. The child reportedly died from cold and lack of appropriate care.
The deaths actually occurred on May 31 but the information trickled in on June 11because the group of expellees spent days trekking in the bush before reaching Cameroon where they relayed the news.
One of the expelled Cameroonians, Michel Wangso, charged that hundreds of his countrymen were subjected to corporal punishment by the Gabonese gendarmes and army.
According to Mr Ndongo, a crisis committee set up by the Cameroonian authorities has counted a total of 2,000 Cameroonians and over 1,000 Africans of various nationalities among those who crossed the border from Gabon. They include nationals of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
"There must be many other African nationals chased away from Gabon who crossed the border without caring to have themselves counted and registered", the sub-divisional administrative officer explained.