Cameroon: Population Movement - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF No. MDRCM026 / PCM033

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Since 15 September 2018, unprecedented mass population movement has been recorded from the North West (NW) and South West (SW) regions of Cameroon, following a notice circulated by armed groups operating in these regions on their intention to block any entry or exit into or from the said regions of Cameroon, in a bid to thwart any campaign plans for the upcoming presidential elections set to hold on 7 October 2018.

Indeed, these two regions of Cameroon have been experiencing social instability coupled with violence that has a negative impact on the socio-economic fabric of the country, starting from October 2016.

The instability began with corporatist claims by lawyers and teachers from the above-mentioned regions and their demands degenerated into a socio-political crisis which resulted in civil disobedience accompanied by ghost towns, the prolonged closure of schools and universities, destruction of markets and administrative infrastructure.

In October 2017, the crisis escalated with various confrontations registered between armed groups and the security and defence forces, leading to insecurity which is now forcing people to move massively within the two aforementioned regions. A fringe of this population sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria, passing the mark of 20,000 refugees since March 2018, according to UNHCR. As concerns internally displaced persons (IDPs), the results of an assessment conducted by UNOCHA in May 2018 point to the presence of more than 160,000 IDPs in the North West and South West regions, distributed as shown in the table below:

As earlier highlighted, this IDP situation has been made worse by the upcoming presidential elections in Cameroon, scheduled to hold on 7 October 2018. Indeed, the armed groups are campaigning against the holding of elections in the South West and North west regions, thus multiplying attacks against government forces. Civilians caught in the crossfire are now fleeing in droves into safer regions across the country, notably in the West and Littoral regions, which share boundaries with the North West and South West regions. Indeed, the Bamboutos, Mifi, Noun and Menoua Divisions in the West region and Mungo and Wouri Divisions in the Littoral region are amongst the most affected locations by this IDP movement outside the crisis areas.

It is foreseen that without any intervention, the current unrest situation is likely to deteriorate especially with upcoming presidential election. The number of IDPs could rise, thereby increasing vulnerability of IDPs and their host communities by significantly reducing their access to basic services such as water and sanitation, food, non-food, shelter and health care, education, etc. As such, the NS is requesting CHF 141,984 from IFRC DREF, to complement other Movement actors response on the ground, as described under “Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country”.

Summary of the current response

Overview of Host National Society

Cameroon Red Cross has been working since 2017 in these regions and closely monitoring the situation until now with the support of its Movement partners such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)...

As a result of continuously monitoring the evolving situation, the Cameroon Red Cross, carried out several follow up missions in the two regions in an attempt to collect data on the needs of IDPs in the NW and SW regions, to no avail. The most recent mission was set for the West region, which receives a significant number of IDPs from the crisis affected regions. This mission was conducted precisely in the, from 30 July to 2 August 2018 and made it possible to collect the data presented in the table below:

In addition to the above-mentioned assessment mission, the Cameroon RC through its local Red Cross branch of Santchou distributed some basic items (blankets, soaps, hygiene kits, buckets) to some 50 displaced families.

Data is yet to be made available for the current mass displacements, thus, the operational strategy for this DREF operation is based on data collected before the situation deteriorated (see Table 2 above). As such, a thorough assessment of the current humanitarian situation is necessary. It will help gather more detailed information on the numbers of IDPs per gender and age, places of destination, priority needs, vulnerabilities, etc and inform a longerterm recovery plan.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country

As a prelude to the organization of its intervention in the crisis-ridden areas, the National Society submitted to the Movement partners present in Cameroon (IFRC, ICRC, Luxemburg Red Cross and French Red Cross), an action plan was developed in early September to respond to the crisis in the NW and SW Regions and several working meetings were held to amend the document. Discussions continued during the Movement's coordination meetings.

Movement partners have been supporting the National Society in developing the Terms of Reference and assessment tools for a joint CRC/IFRC/ICRC mission in the crisis affected regions, as there is need to conduct an in-depth needs assessment per area of focus.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) provides technical support to the Cameroon Red Cross Society through its Country Cluster Support Team (CCST) based in Yaoundé, Cameroon and the Africa Region Office in Nairobi, Kenya. Through this DREF operation, IFRC aims to support the NS in conducting an in-depth needs assessment, preparing for eventual violence resulting from presidential elections and responding to WASH including hygiene promotion and soft component for health of initially recorded IDPs as described in the operational strategy.

In addition to the mentioned elements, with the technical support of the IFRC and the ICRC, the Cameroon Red Cross developed a communication strategy to inform, educate and communicate on Red Cross missions with a focus on incidents that may tarnish the image and reputation of the Red Cross in its interventions, especially within the current context. This strategy aims to promote the values of the Movement, particularly the culture of peace and non-violence.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided financial support for a joint CRC-ICRC mission in the NW and SW regions. It also funded the organization of two training sessions on Community-Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA), Safer Access and communication in times of crisis for the divisional committees in these regions.

The French Red Cross, for its part, has expressed the desire to intervene in the SW and NW regions, but its intervention in the said zones is subordinated to obtaining some security guarantees. At present, it is however ready to provide financial support to the National Society to carry out an in-depth assessment mission that will help gather more detailed information.

With regards to the Luxembourg RC, it has pledged to cover the purchase, transportation and distribution of NFIs including blankets, mattresses, mosquito nets, kitchen kits, buckets and jerrycans for the 917 families recorded during the last CRC assessment, as well as the training of volunteers on distribution techniques. This contribution from Luxembourg RC, will complement the response planned in this DREF operation, allowing targeted IDPs to receive a full response package.

Following consultations between the IFRC Yaoundé CCST and Africa Region and in close coordination with the ICRC, French Red Cross and Luxemburg RC, it was identified that the NS required international assistance to enable the implementation of its plan of action. In the meantime, Movement coordination, depending on how the situation progresses, will be managed by the Cameroon RC, which will maintain constant communication with all Movement components in country.