KOURGUI, Cameroon (May 13, 2015) – Cameroonian Soldiers from the Battalion d’Intervention Rapide (BIR) led a major humanitarian assistance operation in Kourgui to help internally displaced people who were forced to leave their homes due to Boko Haram violence. Over 1,250 internally displaced men, women and children and others from the Kourgui area received medical screening, prevention education and treatment from the BIR and the local medical personnel with the help of funding from the U.S. Africa Command Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Program.
The event provided an opportunity for military and local leaders to open a dialogue on how to best protect vulnerable civilian populations. Local Cameroonian district officials attended the event and discussed with key BIR leadership and participants about building resilience against violence extremist organizations in their community.
“Above all, operations such as these are the most important,” said a zone commander, emphasizing the value of the defense forces in service of the civilian population.
The community as a whole expressed their deep gratitude to the BIR for providing the much needed medical assistance. “Today is our day; we have been found; our prayers have been answered,” said one of the citizens receiving medical assistance from the BIR personnel.
Improved relationships between the community, the military and governmental leadership foster trust and build resiliency in areas of diminishing economic situations and in face of the persistent threat of Boko Haram activity and recruitment in the extreme north region. “The BIR’s desire to strengthen their Civil Military Operation capacity demonstrates their efforts to further professionalize their force, while at the same time, understanding the importance of addressing the needs and concerns of their civilian populations,” said a U.S. captain from the Civil Military Support Element - Cameroon.
BIR planned, resourced and led the Medical Civil Action Program with the support of a U.S. forces team and the Civil Military Support Element - Cameroon from the U.S. Special Operations Command Forward – West Africa, who provided supplemental medical supplies and limited technical assistance before and during the event.