The humanitarian situation in Cameroon is characterized by three complex emergencies namely the conflict and violence in the Far North region, hostilities in the North-West and South-West regions and the presence of over 300,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) in the eastern regions of (East, Adamawa and North). Humanitarian needs are compounded by structural development weaknesses and chronic vulnerabilities that further challenge the long-term recovery of affected people. These preexisting conditions are aggravated by the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that strongly hit in particular the most vulnerable people since March 2020 when Cameroon registered its first case. Despite efforts deployed, the severity of humanitarian needs in Cameroon is escalating due to the prolonged crises, worsening insecurity and displacement, the impact of COVID-19, and climate change-related effects such as floods, which have eroded the remaining household resilience. As a result, in 2021, 4.4 million people need humanitarian assistance. The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) 2021 targets 3 million people in need of urgent assistance and requires US$ 362 million to provide sustainable support to people in need.
As of 30 June 2021, almost 2 million people were displaced within Cameroon, either as internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees or returnees. Cameroon was hosting almost 450,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including about 325,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and almost 118,000 from Nigeria. The country also counts over 1 million internally displaced people and about 465,000 returnees, mainly in the North-West, South-West and Far North regions.
2.6 million people, 10.1 per cent of the population of Cameroon, are food insecure according to the Cadre Harmonisé analysis of March 2021. The food situation is assessed globally as acceptable thanks to relative high production levels by households and the great diversity of foodstuffs in households. Meanwhile, the situation is described as rather precarious in the North-West, South-West, Far-North, Littoral and West regions, due to violence and insecurity as well as the additional pressure by displacement on household food stocks.
A multi-sectoral needs assessment which was carried out in the Far North in December 2020 found that food is the priority need for the displaced population as well as for the host community, followed by access to drinking water and health for the host community and shelter for the displaced population.
From 17 January to 4 February 2021, more than 18,000 people have reportedly returned to Amchidé, Limani et Moskota localities in the Mayo-Sava division in the Far North region thanks to the rehabilitation and construction of basic social services and road infrastructures, construction of security sector infrastructures, assistance in income-generating activities, support to farmer’s organizations and security sector strengthening.
On 10 February, the Governments of Nigeria and Cameroon and UNHCR Cameroon announced the planned voluntary return of 5,000 Nigerian refugees from the Minawao refugee camp in the Far North region of Cameroon. As of 6 April 2021, 3,058 Nigerian refugees were voluntarily returned to Banki and Bama, located in Borno State in Nigeria. Widespread insecurity in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon continued to result in abuses against civilians and led to forced displacements. Protection continues to be a major humanitarian concern in the two regions. Early pregnancy was reported as one of the top three protection issues in 32 per cent of the villages assessed during a multi-sectoral needs assessment (MSNA) carried out in February 2021, followed by gender-based violence (30 per cent) arbitrary detention (29 per cent), lack of civil documentation (29 per cent).
The February MSNA identified 893 health facilities in both regions, 694 of which were functional. There is a slight increase in the number of functional health facilities recorded during this assessment (78 per cent), in comparison to the August 2020 MSNA (71 per cent) and access by displaced people has increased, but time to reach the health facility is still an issue. Malaria was reported as being the primary health issue in 93 per cent of the assessed villages, followed by cough (reported in 63 per cent of the villages) and diarrhea (reported in 41 per cent of the villages). Psychological disorders were reported as being primary health issues in 7 per cent of the assessed villages.
It is estimated that the crisis in the North-West and South-West Regions has left around 700,000 children out of school. The reasons why displaced children did not go to school cited in the February MSNA are because schools are destroyed (61 per cent), because of insecurity (53 per cent) or the fact that functional schools are too far away (31 per cent). School children, educational facilities and teachers continue to be targeted. Several attacks on school personnel and facilities were reported during the reporting period in both regions.
The number of Central African refugees located in the eastern regions of Cameroon, has increased from 321,000 in March 2021 to almost 325,000 in June 2021. Mounting tension and hostilities before, during and after the 27 December 2020 Presidential elections in the Central African Republic led to a new flight of Central Africans to Cameroon. Despite borders remaining officially closed between the two countries due to COVID-19-related movement restrictions, people fleeing CAR have been allowed to enter Cameroon to seek asylum. 6,692 new Central Africans arrived in Cameroon as of 3 March. However, movement monitoring and trends suggest that the actual figures are higher than the reported estimates, as refugees are scattered in small villages along the border and have not been able to approach UNHCR due to distance or lack of knowledge.
The already vulnerable refugee population is in urgent need of protection services, food, shelter and essential household items, and education. In addition, they need health care supplies and water, sanitation and hygiene services to prevent the spread of diseases. Most of the new arrivals need sufficient financial means to pay for their children’s education fees, health care and other basic needs. Beyond the life-saving humanitarian assistance and access to basic social services, they also need access to economic opportunities and productive resources (financial and non-financial) with the aim of building their socio-economic resilience and maintaining livelihoods.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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