Cameroon

Cameroon: North-West and South-West Crisis Situation Report No. 2 - As of 31 December 2018

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This report is produced by OCHA Cameroon in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers 1 – 31 December 2018. The next report will be issued in February.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Since late 2017, long-running tensions in Cameroon’s NorthWest and South-West regions have escalated. With the proliferation of armed groups and deployment of defense forces, the crisis has increasingly shifted into armed conflict.

• More than 1,200 cases of civilian protection rights violations have been registered, mainly involving physical abuse or threats, and lack of legal protection.

• The humanitarian situation of the affected population has fast deteriorated. Insecurity and violence have forced more than 400,000 people to flee their homes and continue to have serious consequences on livelihoods and living conditions.

• Around 351,000 IDPs and 372,000 people in the host community need water, sanitation and hygiene services.

• Many of the conflict-hit population are suffering severe emotional stress. About 3,700 unaccompanied or separated children need urgent assistance and psycho-social care.

• More than 40 per cent of clinics and health centres no longer provide vaccinations, less than 15 per cent of births are assisted by skilled attendants.

• An Emergency response plan has been developed in May 2018 targeting 160,000 people. Eight clusters have been activated in October. By the end of 2018, the plan was only 40% per cent funded.

• The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Cameroon is being finalised. Planning workshops were held in Buea and Bamenda to ensure appropriate reflection of the crisis in the North-West and South-West in the national level plan

• In December WFP provided food for 29,000 IDPs in Meme division in South-West region, the first large-scale distribution since the crisis erupted.

4M People affected

1.3M People in need

160,000 People targeted

437,500 Internally displaced

500,000 People in need in host communities

330,000 Other people in need

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Context

Socio-political issues in and about the anglophone region of Cameroon have been a matter of contention throughout the post-colonial period. Political protests intensified in 2016. After months of protests against perceived marginalisation, violence erupted in North-West and South-West prompting security clampdowns. With the proliferation of non-state armed increased insecurity, violence and loss of life have forced thousands of families to flee their homes. Many civilians have been killed and displacement continues to have serious consequences on livelihoods and living conditions of the affected populations.

Vulnerability has been further compounded by limited access to education for children due to a ban and attacks on schools by the armed groups. The crisis further worsened from mid-2018 due to increased hostilities ahead of the presidential election. Movements are restricted in the two regions due to a curfew in the North-West, a “No Movement” declaration by non-state actors and the increase of both official and informal checkpoints.

Security

Insecurity in the affected regions remains high, with continuing armed attacks and confrontations between the military and armed groups. In early December, troops clashed with armed elements in Momo, Ndonga, Bui and Ngoketunjia divisions in North-West resulting in fatalities and destroyed vehicles. In the South West, incidents of shooting were reported in Muyuka and Ekona, linked to increased presence of armed groups.

The hostilities also claimed civilian lives, with commercial vehicle drivers killed in armed raids and civilian casualties in subsequent military operations. On 6 December, a former aid worker with an international NGO died of gunshot wounds sustained in crossfire. Abductions continue to be a concern, a prominent lawyer and Catholic priests were kidnapped and later released in Munyenge and Bamenda towns.

The use of IEDs has been reported in the two regions. Two explosive devices were detected and detonated, but a third destroyed a vehicle belonging to the security forces as it was being defused.

Several violent incidents against authorities were reported in the second half of December. The home of the Government’s appointee for a proposed DDR initiative, Francis Fai Yengo, was burned down. On 31 December, the convoy of the North-West region governor was ambushed as it made its way from a church near Bamenda town.

During the last week of December, the village of the incoming prime minister was attacked and burnt in the South-West region. The event occurred few days before its appointment.

Political

Little political progress has been made to resolve the conflict. The ‘Anglophone General Conference’ set to discuss the crisis on 21 November was postponed with no new date announced. The conference organizers appealed to the Government to negotiate with the separatist groups to disarm, but no such talks have been held.

A stay-home protest continues to be observed every Monday in the main towns of the two regions. Violence and political activities ticked up during the 2 November start of the trial of Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe, a separatist leader arrested in January 2018 in Nigeria and deported to Cameroon, and nine others. The case was adjourned to February.

A presidential decree was issued for a DDR process for North-West, South-West and North regions, and Yengo named to spearhead it. Critics say the DDR commission can do little to help resolve the crisis. On 13 December, the president halted the prosecution of 289 detained separatists from the two anglophone regions.

On 13 December, the United States, Sweden and the UK communicated their disquiet at the ongoing conflict following the presentation of the 15th report of the UN Secretary General on the situation in Central Africa before the Security Council, the US calling for an immediate end to violence without preconditions.

Humanitarian

The violence has uprooted 437,500 people from their homes and forced over 32,000 to seek refuge to neighbouring Nigeria. Humanitarian organizations are striving to step up presence in the conflict-hit regions since launching a response plan in May 2018 targeting 160,000 people. However, armed fighting and insecurity is a prominent impediment to provide assistance as well as a barrier for those in need to reach areas where they can receive aid.

The majority of the displaced are women and children. Food, shelter and civilian protection are the principal humanitarian needs, although across all sectors needs are high. Many of the conflict-affected people are growing more vulnerable as the violence persists and humanitarian assistance remains inadequate. The humanitarian community is finalising the 2019 response plan to shore up assistance.

WFP, UNICEF, WHO and UNHCR have declared a Level 2 emergency owing to the worsening humanitarian situation in the two regions.

The humanitarian community has developed an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) earlier this year; in parallel the government had also initiated a humanitarian plan. Deployment of humanitarian actors continues in the field.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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