The United States has paid out the sum of 1 million Central African francs as compensation to the family of a Cameroonian boy, Birwe Toussem, who was knocked down and killed by a vehicle traveling in the convoy of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.
U.S. State Department officials have confirmed the cash payment of 1 million Central African francs, which is roughly $1,700. The Associated Press reports that the boy’s family also received two cows, flour, onions, rice, salt, sugar, and cartons of soap and oil.
The sad incident occurred in April as Power toured the areas around the remote northern Cameroon city of Mokolo to show American support to troops fighting the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and the several thousand people internally displaced by the crisis.
Many excited villagers, including 7-year-old Toussem, reportedly lined the highway to welcome the ambassador.
Toussem was reportedly struck by an armored jeep (the sixth car) in Ambassador Power’s motorcade as she attempted to cross a two-lane road. Witnesses say young Toussem may have lurched into the highway when he was distracted by a helicopter flying overhead.
The ambassador’s convoy was moving through an area that security operatives considered unsafe territory and her motorcade was reportedly traveling at speeds approaching 60mph (100km/h).
The jeep that hit Toussem attempted to stop, however, members of the ambassador’s security detail instructed it to continue on its journey.
Swift medical response was immediately provided by an ambulance traveling in Ambassador Power’s motorcade, but the boy died moments later.
Power returned later that same day to express her grief over the unfortunate incident in a strained meeting with Toussem’s family and the rest of the community.
U.S. diplomats have continued to visit Toussem’s family since the accident and have promised to build a well to provide fresh drinking water for the boy’s community.
Some critics within Cameroon, however, have criticized the amount paid as compensation describing it as “insignificant.”
State department spokesman Jeffrey Loree disagrees with critics, though, insisting that it was a “compensation package commensurate with local custom as well as the needs of the family and village.”
A combination of Cameroon’s central government, the UN, and local charity organisations have also donated 5m francs to the family, bringing the pay-out to more than $10,000 (£7,393).