US gives compensation to family of boy killed by motorcade

Samantha Power meets a family who fled to Mokolo, Cameroon, to escape Boko Haram. Picture: AP
Samantha Power meets a family who fled to Mokolo, Cameroon, to escape Boko Haram. Picture: AP
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Hoping to make amends for a tragic accident, the United States has provided a wide range of compensation to a Cameroonian family whose child was killed by a vehicle in UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s motorcade. The package included everything from cash to cows.

The incident occurred in April as Ms Power visited the frontline in the war against Boko Haram.

Travelling near the remote, northern Cameroon city of Mokolo, an armoured jeep in her caravan struck seven-year-old Birwe Toussem at high speed after he darted 
into the road, killing him instantly.

Ms Power returned later that day for a tense and emotionally fraught gathering with Birwe’s family and community members. She promised to compensate them for their loss.

State Department officials said the cash payment was 1 million Central African francs, roughly $1,700 (£1,257). Cameroon’s GDP per person is about $1,300.

Cameroon’s government, aid organisations operating in the area and the UN – which also had officials in the convoy –contributed another five million francs, bringing the total cash payout to more than $10,000. In addition to money, officials said the US government provided a pair of cows; hundreds of kilogrammes 
of flour, onions, rice, salt and sugar; and cartons of soap and oil.

A well that will provide the village with fresh drinking water is still to come.

A state department spokesman called it a “compensation package 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,” he said.

“US diplomats have visited the family on several occasions following the accident and will continue to provide all support possible.”

Ms Power was on the first leg of a week-long trip through West African countries bearing the scars of Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency.