Humanitarian needs in Cameroon are at their highest level ever following an upsurge in violence and insecurity in several regions of the country. Around 4.3 million people need emergency assistance, marking a 30 per cent increase compared to 2018.
The violence and forced displacement have dramatically affected the lives of women and children. Gender based violence is on a sharp increase. In some regions up to 80% of children are out of school.
Funding for the response is however at an all-time low.
In February, the Government and the humanitarian community launched the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, requesting for US$299 million to assist 2.3 million people. As of 22 April, 11 per cent of the funds has been received.
Some 437,000 people have been forced from their homes in the violence-hit North-West and South-West regions, adding to the devastation by the protracted Lake Chad Basin conflict that continues to force civilians from neighbouring Nigeria to seek safety into Cameroon’s Far North region. Cameroon also hosts 275,000 Central African Republic refugees in Adamaoua, East and North region. Cameroon. Cameroon today has the 6th largest displaced population in the world.
“The people of Cameroon deserve a chance. Communities hosting the displaced are sharing the little they have. Their generosity is exemplary”, said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Allegra Baiocchi. “We need to show them the same level of generosity. We need to show them that we care. Funding remains critically low and we simply cannot sustain our activities without donors’ support. It is time to close the funding gap.”
The violence-affected people are struggling to survive difficult conditions, with little food, shelter, water, healthcare or protection from violation and abuse. Aid organizations are striving to deliver assistance notwithstanding access restrictions and lack of funding.
Rising food insecurity
Today, 3 million people are severely food insecurity in Cameroon, 1.5 million in North-West and South-West regions alone. Among them are 222,000 children.
In Far North region, one in two people does not have enough to eat. In 2018, 78,000 children under 5 years were treated for severe malnutrition. Malnutrition is likely to remain high this year or worsen if funding for prevention and treatment programmes is not forthcoming.
Humanitarian organizations have provided food to more than 42,000 displaced people. Around 26,000 people have received emergency food in the South-West region. But more needs to be done.
No health services and clean water for thousands of people
Since the beginning of the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions, local aid organizations have been at the forefront of the relief response, working hard to provide assistance to people forced to flee their homes.
Clashes, shut-down of activities in towns and insecurity have hampered operations in clinics and hospitals, and medical staff have been repeatedly targeted. Humanitarian organizations were able to provide basic health services to 3,700. 14,000 people received potable water and hygiene kits.
A generation at risk
Tens of thousands of boys and girls are deprived of education due to schools’ closure. They are in many cases being exploited and abused, forced to work or recruited. Tens of thousands of people affected by the violence need protection from abuse and violations.
“Cameroon has not witnessed a humanitarian emergency at such a scale, and the causes of the different crises are but intensifying,” said Ms. Baiocchi. “While we may not be able to quickly alter the underlying drivers, we must shift our approach to be able to make a difference in the life of the girl who is missing school due to violence, the displaced mother struggling to feed her children, or the father who has lost all source of income and livelihood.”
The Plight of Internal Displacement
Tens of millions of people around the world have been driven out of their homes by war, hunger, earthquakes and other perils. Among the most vulnerable, are 40 million people who have been forced to flee, but never crossed a border. Lacking special protection in their darkest hour of need, these largely unnoticed women, men and children may have fled their homes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. They often urgently need essential necessities such as shelter, food and clean water, while stripped of their rights and basic protections.
To draw the world’s attention to the Plight of World’s 40 Million Internally Displaced People, OCHA has launched an innovative YouTube campaign, ‘Unavailable Content’, in collaboration with Ogilvy. The campaign is at the heart of OCHA’s Invisible Citizens Week, which is dedicated to shining a spotlight on this resilient yet vulnerable group of people.