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Headed to Meet Displaced People, Samantha Power’s Convoy Strikes and Kills Cameroonian Child

The American ambassador to the United Nations was traveling in a convoy that struck and killed a child in Cameroon on Monday.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03:  United States Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Samantha Power holds a press conference on September 3, 2014 in New York City. Power answered questions on foreign extremist Islamist fighters joining ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the most recent Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, amongst other topics.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03: United States Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Samantha Power holds a press conference on September 3, 2014 in New York City. Power answered questions on foreign extremist Islamist fighters joining ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the most recent Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, amongst other topics. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

America’s envoy to the United Nations was on her way Monday to talk to people forced from their homes by Boko Haram in Cameroon when a vehicle in her convoy struck and killed a 7-year old child. Ambassador Samantha Power, who has spent much of her life championing the victims of conflicts, later spoke with the child’s family “to offer her condolences in person,” a State Department official told Foreign Policy.

“We deeply saddened and offer our sincere condolences to the child’s family,” said the State official, who refused to be identified by name in confirming the accident. “At the time of the incident, Ambassador Power was outside Maroua, in the northern part of Cameroon visiting IDP and refugee camps and discussing with Cameroonian officials how to address the threat of Boko Haram in the region. The area had been the near recent instances of Boko Haram violence.”

The motorcade was reportedly traveling at around 60 mph at the time of the crash, which occurred on a two-lane highway near the city of Mokolo in Cameroon’s Far North region. It was the sixth car in Power’s convoy, driven by a Cameroonian, that hit the child. He was tended to by the ambulance in the motorcade and transported to a local hospital, but could not be saved. It was not immediately clear whether the child’s family will be compensated for their loss.

Mokolo is the fourth-largest city in the region, which borders Nigeria’s northeast. Although Boko Haram extremists originated in northern Nigeria, they have over the past few years spread into neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Mokolo is less than a 90-minute drive from Maroua, the university town in the region that has been repeatedly struck by suicide bombers — including children forced to detonate themselves at crowded marketplaces and mosques.

Between an influx in refugees from Nigeria and internally displaced people in Cameroon fleeing to the makeshift, underfunded camps, Boko Haram has caused a massive headache for Cameroon’s central government in Yaoundé, more than a day’s travel from the violence up north. Outside of Maroua, the Far North region is Cameroon’s most isolated and underdeveloped region, where most rural residents live in small, thatched roof compounds and subsist on what farming and cattle-herding they can manage in excruciatingly hot temperatures.

According to a statement from Power’s office last week, she is visiting Cameroon ahead of stops in Chad and Nigeria to visit with government officials, civil society organizations, Cameroonian troops, and displaced people. She is also scheduled to publicly destroy “confiscated ivory and pangolin scales, demonstrating the strong U.S.-Cameroonian partnership to counter wildlife trafficking.”

FP’s John Hudson contributed to this report.

Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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