Cameroon

Cameroon: Child Protection Inter - Agency Referral Pathway for Child Protection Cases, North-West and South-West Regions, December 2021

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INTRODUCTION

Children in humanitarian settings are very vulnerable and face a number of protection risks. They may be physically injured, face psychosocial distress, mental health issues or be victims of physical and sexual abuse. They may also be separated from their families, recruited into armed forces and armed groups or be economically exploited. The Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CPAoR), which is part of the Protection Cluster, has as its main mission to support actors at all levels to ensure that humanitarian efforts to protect children are timely, well coordinated and have a maximum coverage and impact.
The North West and South West regions of Cameroon witnessed an outbreak of civil unrest in 2016 which has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people both within the country and to neighboring Nigeria. As the crisis evolves, more and more people are leaving rural and bush areas to major cities within the affected regions and in other regions mainly the West, Littoral and Centre regions.
Though there has been an increase in the number of returnees in both the North West and South West regions, this is mainly because the returnees are those who displace from the bush after localized conflict and return as soon as things settle down. A majority of the displaced people are women and children, of which many are unaccompanied or separated children. In addition, the opposition against government administered education by the Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) and their recurring attacks on schools have forced many families to send their children to school in the Littoral, West and Centre regions.
As a result of this crisis, children are confronted with numerous protection risks. The main concern remains family separation with tens of thousands of children being reported as unaccompanied or separated. In addition, children particularly boys, are reportedly being recruited and used by armed groups. There has also been an increase in cases of sexual violence, harassment, and forced child marriages resulting in unwanted early pregnancies. Children are also forced to engage in economic activities, at times under the worst forms of child labor, including sexual exploitation since more and more young women and girls recourse to survival sex. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its sanitary, economic and social consequences has also increased the vulnerability of the children already affected by the humanitarian crisis.
The CPAoR for the North West and South West regions therefore developed, with its members, the referral pathway for child protection cases to facilitate the identification and provision of services by all the actors in both regions.
This referral pathway covers both English speaking regions of Cameroon and is based on the Divisional level in terms of responsibility sharing. Therefore, the North West Region will have information corresponding to its 7 Divisions (Boyo, Bui, Donga-Mantung, Menchum, Mezam, Momo and NgoKetunjia) and the South West Region to its 6 Divisions (Fako, Kupe-Manenguba, Lebialem, Many, Meme and Ndian).