Cameroon: North-West and South-West Crisis Situation Report No. 1 - As of 30 November 2018
• 17 October: Activation of eight Clusters – Education, Food Security, Health, Logistics, Nutrition, Protection, Shelter/NFI and WASH.
• Humanitarian presence in South-West and North-West regions scaled up.
• UNHCR distributes Shelter/NFI in Konye, Meme Division, South West.
• WFP starts general food distribution to IDPs in Moungo and Wouri division, West Region.
• More than 437,000 people displaced in North-West and South-West regions.
• Regional Directors, Humanitarian Coordinator visit South-West Region.
• 78 children kidnapped on 7 November in Bamenda, North-West region, later released unharmed.
4m affected people
1.3m people in need
160 000 targeted
437 500 internally displaced
500 000 Host communities in need
330 000 Other people in need
Socio-political issues in and about the anglophone region of Cameroon had been a matter of contention since independence in 1960 and 1961. Violence erupted in 2016 in the North-West (NW) and South-West (SW) regions, prompting security clampdowns. The crisis shifted into armed conflict with the proliferation of non-state armed groups (NSAG) and deployment of military forces to the regions. This situation has led to multiple civilian casualties and continues to have serious consequences on livelihoods and living conditions of the affected populations.
In late 2017, and in response to the violence and loss of life, humanitarian organizations were reporting that families were fleeing the two affected regions. Displacement was further compounded by limited access to education for children due to a ban and attacks on schools by the non-state armed groups. The crisis has worsened considerably in the past six months due to several factors including: anticipation of periods of high insecurity (the start of the school year, the 1 October anniversary and the 2018 presidential electoral; movement restriction in the two regions (curfew extended in the North-West, “No Movement” declaration by non-state actors, and increase of both official and informal checkpoints).
Socio political situation
The socio-political situation remains tense. The election period culminated in the inauguration and swearing in of the sitting president for a 7th term, extending a tenure to date of 36 years in power. There has been a proliferation of non-state armed groups and intensification of confrontations between NSAG and the armed forces. Punitive actions are also reported to have taken place on civilians perceived as associated with parties to the conflict.
Since 8 November 2017, the date of the first clash between NSAG and the State armed forces, confrontations between the two parties have displaced around 350,000 people (246,000 in SW and 104,000 in NW), triggering an unprecedented crisis in the two regions.
The humanitarian crisis has a growing impact in the bordering West and Littoral regions. Clashes have hit neighbouring areas, particularly in Menoua division in West region. In the run up to the elections, Littoral and the West regions saw the number of internally displaced persons (85,000 as of October 2018) rise. While some have returned, many remain displaced.
The population of NW and SW regions regularly face protection issues such as threats from armed elements, being caught in crossfire, restriction on freedom of movement due to multiple official and unofficial check points, arbitrary arrests and confiscation of personal documents, etc. Teachers, students and Government workers who do not adhere to the armed groups’ education boycott have been threatened. The Government has tightened security, limiting the movement of people and goods through curfews.
An information war has been waged, particularly through social media, in which all sides have been accused of human rights violations, including killing, maiming, torture and destruction of property. Attacks on medical facilities and patients is deeply worrying. In his inaugural address, the re-elected president called on the secessionist groups to lay down their weapons, appealed for calm and communicated a robust approach that would be demanded of security forces.
The political situation in the two regions remains tense and the Ghost Town movement declared for Mondays continues to be observed. The All-Anglophone conference planned for 21-22 November was postponed due to a lack of governorate level authorization for the event. While the movement of extradited secessionists from unofficial detention location to prison took place indicates a softening of the government approach.
The security situation continues to be volatile across the NW and SW. In the SW, in Buea and Kumba, there were a worrying number of kidnappings and other attacks on schools reported indicating an upscaling of the enforcement of the ‘no schools’ policy. Unconfirmed reports indicate that they are associated with the movement of an armed group to the area. Security force operations continued against secessionist groups, including on the Kumba-Mbonge axis in vicinity of Kumba.
In the NW, violence confrontations took place between armed secessionists and security forces including ambushes against security forces and attacks on bases indicating an upscaling in military capacity. Incidents were particularly notable in Bali and Jakiri. Kidnappings also took place. In Bamenda in the NW, the 6pm – 6am curfew remains was changed to 9pm to 9am. Given level of incidents this would seem to indicate a political softening rather than an indication of improvements in the security environment.
6pm – 6am curfew remains was changed to 9pm to 6am. Given level of incidents this would seem to indicate a political softening rather than an indication of improvements in the security environment.