Cameroon + 1 more

Cameroon Humanitarian Bulletin Issue N°24 | September 2021

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
Origin
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Education: In 2021, two out of three schools have been non-operational in the North-West and South-West (NWSW) regions, affecting over 700,000 students.

  • Displacement: Over 2,500 people fled their villages in the NWSW.

  • Food security: More than 200,000 vulnerable people did not receive food assistance in September in the NWSW due to ban of movements and activities.

  • COVID-19: Between 21 and 28 September, 4,024 positive cases were reported, the highest number in a week since March 2021.

ANOTHER YEAR OF NON-FORMAL LEARNING FOR THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN

Since 2017, attacks have highly affected education in the North-West and South-West (NWSW) regions. Teachers and students are attacked, kidnapped, threatened and killed. Attacks are displacing thousands of families forcing them to live in the bush where neither schools nor other basic services are available. In 2021, two schools in three have been non-operational, affecting over 700,000 students.

“When the crisis started in 2017, I continued teaching despite non-State armed groups’ (NSAGs) threats and calls for school closure,” said Elisabeth, a teacher in Bamenda, NW region. “One day, one of my former students informed me that a NSAG was targeting me for violating their teaching ban,” she added.

Despite the threats, Elisabeth continued her work until the school principal was abducted. Even though he was released three days later after the ransom payment, the school was closed as parents and teachers decided not to take additional risks.

“We would hear news of abduction of children on their way to school every day. When I heard that NSAG members were planning to kidnap me, I left with my children to Bafoussam in the West region,” Elisabeth added. NSAGs threaten teachers frequently in the two regions, force them to stop their activities, and to flee to safe localities.

On 15 September, a NSAG kidnapped eight students in Bamenda. They harassed and humiliated them before being released after their families paid a ransom. In Donga-Mantung division in the North-West, they attacked a girl and chopped her fingers in reprisal for defying the lockdown and going to school. Afterward, five public school principals were kidnapped in NgoKetunjia division in the North-West, and one of them was killed six days later.
In Ngwadikang village in Bali subdivision in the NW, due to insecurity, the only public primary school is non-operational since 2017. In Bali Central, located 4km from Ngwadikang, non-formal classes were operating until July 2021. After the decision of the Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) of Mezam to ban motorcycles on Bali axis, NSAGs responded with a ban of movement of all vehicles in the area. Consequently, markets, churches and non-formal schools were closed, and public gathering activities were put on hold.

Since 2020, UNICEF through Green Partners Association (GPA) runs a radio education programme in some communities in Bali and Ngwadikang, to allow students to resume an education routine. Parents who cannot afford to send their children to continue their education in safe areas are getting organized in communities to set up learning spaces for children. Pascaline, an 8-year-old girl resumed learning in September 2021 in a community learning centre operated by the local NGO Community Humanitarian Emergency Board International (COHEB) in Kake, in the SouthWest. “After four years of not going to school, I am learning how to read and write and COHEB gave me books for free,” said Pascaline. “My mother could not send me to school because she did not have money to pay school fees and buy school uniform,” she added.

In some localities, the security situation is very volatile and the crisis has seriously impacted economic activities. NSAGs have kidnapped some heads of families, killed others, and the rest of the family struggles to provide for their basic needs.

These abuses expose children to early marriage, violence, early pregnancies and child labour, depriving them of their childhood and negatively affecting their longer-term development.

As a response to this situation, education partners are supporting non-formal education especially in remote areas and in those where access to education is challenging. They distribute learning material, provide training for teachers and facilitators including psychosocial support, vocational and life skills training. They support distance education through nonformal learning platforms and radio programmes, to support the continuity of learning for conflict-affected boys and girls.

Partners also provide reproductive health care and school feeding assistance to the targeted population.
Nevertheless, the Education Cluster remains underfunded. The Humanitarian Response Plan targeted 1.9 million children in Cameroon in 2021. The humanitarian actors are advocating for the increase of the funding to assist all children in need.

They also advocate for the protection of education in all forms, including the protection of education buildings, assets, students, teachers and other education personnel.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.