Foreword by the Humanitarian Coordinator
The 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is a multisectoral strategy aiming to meet the needs of affected people. It is the fruit of a joint effort of humanitarian actors and partners.
Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic to Cameroon, the country is facing four parallel crises with different causes and consequences. Needs range from immediate lifesaving to protracted recovery. Response strategies were adapted and built around these different contexts and vulnerabilities and had to be reprioritized and adjusted in the context of COVID-19. Investments made in the collection and analysis of needs, both at the sectoral and intersectoral level, have enabled us to develop a credible response strategy based on robust prioritization.
First, the Far North Region continues to be impacted by the Boko Haram related armed conflict and Cameroon remains the second most-affected country by the Lake Chad Basin emergency. About 1.2 million people living in the region need urgent assistance. 527,000 persons in the Far North are displaced due to the armed conflict and face serious protection risks. Life-saving assistance remains crucial to respond to the humanitarian needs of the displaced persons and the local communities whose preexisting vulnerabilities have been further exacerbated by these movements along with the violence and the disruption to their livelihoods and basic social services.
Second, Cameroon’s eastern regions are still home to over 272,000 vulnerable refugees from the Central African Republic. The influx of refugees continues to exert significant pressure on natural resources and basic social services in host areas and exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities.
Access to livelihoods, food, WASH services and education remains limited for both refugees and their host communities.
A third challenge arose in November 2017 when the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West regions turned into a situation of violence with increasing reports of human rights violations and abuses, including extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and destruction of property, and rising humanitarian needs.
Almost 680,000 Cameroonian are now internally displaced due to this crisis mainly in the North West and South West regions, but also in the West and Littoral. An additional 58,000 persons have sought refuge in neighboring Nigeria. The displaced communities have acute needs for protection, food, shelter/NFI, water and sanitation as well as access to health and education. Persons who could not flee the violence, most notably older persons and persons with disabilities are at heightened risk of attacks and sexual violence.
The North West and South West regions have been subject to a resurgence of attacks against persons, their properties and public infrastructure, including health centers and schools, along with continuing incidents against humanitarian workers and medical personnel.
Fourthly, the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Cameroon in early March. Since the number of cases is on the rise. Considering the structural weakness of Cameroon’s health care system and limited access to WASH services of large parts of the population, the country is ill prepared to contain and respond to the pandemic. It is estimated that 6.2 million people in Cameroon are in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020. This is an additional 2.3 million people in comparison to the situation before the COVID-19 outbreak, when 3.9 million people were estimated to need humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, COVID-19 has rendered the provision of assistance to affected population even more challenging and the humanitarian response had to be adapted drastically. Humanitarian actors had to reprioritize activities to “Do No Harm” and to integrate COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and response activities in all humanitarian operations. In order to implement our 2020 coordinated humanitarian response plan, we need to sustain engagement with all parties, recognizing that the primary responsibility to protect its population lies with the State. In this context, we are determined to ensure that protection is central to humanitarian action and to strengthen the humanitarian-development collaboration and further involve development partners whenever it is feasible in reducing the vulnerabilities and risks underlying humanitarian needs.
People saved from COVID-19 should not die from hunger. The trade-off between saving lives and saving livelihoods is excruciating. The collaboration and complementarity between humanitarians, State and development actors is now more important than ever before.
In accordance with the commitments made at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, humanitarian partners will continue to strengthen a multisectoral approach to mainstream protection throughout humanitarian action and promote accountability to affected populations. Communication with people affected is central to the effectiveness of the humanitarian response and it is imperative that the response be guided by people in need. This year, the centrality of protection will be further reinforced, in accordance with the protection strategy of the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). Furthermore, the humanitarian principles of neutrality, humanity, of impartiality and independence will be at the heart of all operations as well as gender equality and the use of cash as modality of intervention.
Yet in 2019 the humanitarian response in Cameroon was the least funded in Africa. Faced with an increasing severity of needs, it remains essential to support our humanitarian efforts. This acute underfunding of our humanitarian response in Cameroon is leaving millions of people without vital humanitarian assistance and protection, reinforcing the vicious cycle of vulnerability and violence.
I would finally like to express my gratitude to all humanitarian partners, including United Nations organizations, international and national NGOs, members of civil society and the Government who are on the front line in the field with affected populations, for some at the cost of their lives. I want to salute the dedication and the expertise of all our partners who have, without a doubt, contributed to the improvement of the wellbeing of the vulnerable population in Cameroon in 2019.
Humanitiaran Coordinator in Cameroon
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.