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Boko Haram African football star Eto'o urges help for "unnoticed" victims

Yet Cameroon's record goal scorer fears the conflict and ensuing displacement are being ignored as global attention remains fixed upon Europe's burgeoning migration crisis.

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Cameroon player Samuel Samuel Eto'o gestures during a news conference before a team training at Arena da Amazonia stadium in Manaus, June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Andres Stapff play Cameroon player Samuel Samuel Eto'o gestures during a news conference before a team training at Arena da Amazonia stadium in Manaus, June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Andres Stapff (Reuters)

Africa's most decorated footballer Samuel Eto'o has appealed for funding to help people escaping violence in Nigeria and Cameroon and warned that the world is neglecting an escalating humanitarian crisis in West Africa.

A six-year campaign by militant group Boko Haram to carve out an Islamist state in northeast Nigeria has killed thousands, uprooted 2.2 million people within the country and driven around 160,000 Nigerians to seek refuge in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Cross-border raids and suicide bombings by suspected Boko Haram forces have displaced more than 80,000 people over the last year in Cameroon's Far North region, which is also home to 60,000 Nigerian refugees who have fled attacks by the militants since the start of 2013.

Yet Cameroon's record goal scorer fears the conflict and ensuing displacement are being ignored as global attention remains fixed upon Europe's burgeoning migration crisis.

"There are different classes of crisis now... no one seems to notice the displaced in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria," the four times African player of the year and twice African Nations Cup winner told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"When you see the population in refugee camps growing from 6,000 to 50,000 people in less than a year, you realise how serious the situation is," he added.

Eto'o, who plays for Turkish team Antalyaspor, was speaking after hosting a fundraising ball in London for the Yellow Whistle Blower FC initiative, which launched in March and has raised 50,000 pounds ($76,500) so far.

The money is being used by Oxfam and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) to help the displaced and provide food, water and medicine to people living in makeshift refugee camps.

"The initiative is an opportunity to give voices and faces to all the Boko Haram victims. The media only talks about the conflict, not the people who live with it each day," the former Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker said.

Boko Haram controlled swathes of territory in three states in northeastern Nigeria at the start of 2015 but was pushed out by Nigerian troops with the help of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Now heavily splintered, factions of the militant group have reverted to guerrilla tactics, raiding villages for supplies and bombing places of worships, markets and bus stations.

"There is need for government, humanitarian organizations and donors to scale up their humanitarian support in order to improve the survival of the displaced," Oxfam Nigeria country director Jan Rogge told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

($1 = 0.6536 pounds)

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