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Cameroonian Family To Be Reimbursed After Son Struck by State Department Convoy

More than two months after a convoy of vehicles carrying Samantha Power hit and killed a Cameroonian child, the family is being paid by Washington.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks about the global refugee crisis at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, June 29, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks about the global refugee crisis at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, June 29, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

In April, a convoy of vehicles carrying Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the United Nations, was cruising along a highway in northern Cameroon when 7-year-old Birwe Toussem darted in front of an armored jeep.

Before the local driver could brake, he hit Toussem and killed him.  

On Wednesday, more than two months later, the State Department confirmed the family will be reimbursed for the accidental death.

And according to the Associated Press, that package will include $1,700 cash — $400 more than the central African country’s GDP per capita — in addition to  contributions from the Cameroonian government, the United Nations, and aid agencies, bringing the payment to a grand total of around $10,000. 

The U.S. government will also provide the family with what amounts essentially to a gift basket including two cows, hundreds of kilos of flour, onions, rice, salt, and sugar, as well as soap and oil. Washington will also contribute a well for the village, to ensure fresh drinking water for the community.

When Foreign Policy asked State Department spokesman Jeffrey Loree if the costs for these kinds of deaths were adjusted for cost of living, and would have been significantly higher if the child had been killed elsewhere, he said he could not offer an immediate response to the inquiry. He also could not immediately confirm the contents of the package.

But he had earlier told the AP that the package provided “is commensurate with local custom, as well as the needs of the family and village.”

“This package included a potable water well in the boy’s community that will serve as a lasting memory and some monetary, food, and other support,” Loree told the AP. “U.S. diplomats have visited the family on several occasions following the accident and will continue to provide all support possible.”

When the sixth vehicle in her convoy struck the child, Power was on her way to meet with people displaced by Boko Haram, the extremist group that has terrorized the region in recent years and forced millions of people from the Lake Chad region to flee their homes.

She returned to meet the family and apologize to them later that day.

Photo Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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