"Families who escaped violence now lack food and water and face malnutrition" warns Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel on mission to Cameroon's Far North

(Yaoundé, 14 September 2015) - Toby Lanzer, the United Nations Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, completed a week-long visit to Yaoundé and the Far North region to assess the mounting humanitarian impact of the crisis in neighbouring northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin.

“Families on the run often survived brutal attacks and face severe trauma,” says Lanzer. “As if this was not enough of a burden, we now worry that their lives are threatened by the lack of food and water, malnutrition and deadly epidemics such as cholera and measles”, he added upon return from the Far North region, which has been hit hard by the effects of violence in the northeast of Nigeria.

Cameroon’s Far North region hosts almost 200,000 forced migrants, including 80,000 internally displaced persons and over 57,000 Nigerian refugees who fled the violence and settled either in the Minawao refugee camp or with local communities along borders areas. "Many fled overnight, leaving all they had behind. They now rely on humanitarian assistance and the scarce resources of host communities that were already on the brink before the crisis”, Lanzer noted.

In the Far North –which faces many of the challenges inherent to the Sahel region – large scale displacement is compounding existing vulnerabilities. Food insecurity has dramatically spiked in recent months, affecting today one in every three people. The acute malnutrition rate is also on the rise, surpassing the emergency threshold in many areas. Insecurity is further undermining population movements, daily commercial and agricultural activities, thereby adversely impacting the livelihoods of communities that are still recovering from a decade of periodic droughts. “As farmers were forced to flee away from their lands, many will miss the harvest next month. Without timely humanitarian assistance, communities may take years to recover. The international community must step up its support and match the generosity of the people and Government of Cameroon”, he urged.

Current funding of Cameroon’s humanitarian appeal covers barely 40 per cent of the needs, threatening the viability of humanitarian response to the Far North over the coming months. “Food distributions, access to health services and psycho-social care are among our top priorities to save lives and restore the dignity of the displaced”, noted Najat Rochdi, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator in Cameroon. “A renewed engagement by development actors is also essential if we are to address the root causes of chronic vulnerability and ensure stability of the region in a durable manner”, she added.

For further information, please call:

Berenice Van Den Driessche, OCHA, vandendriessche@un.org, +221 77 333 91 95 (Dakar)
To learn more about the humanitarian needs in the Sahel and how humanitarian teams plan to respond, visit: www.unocha.org/sahel2015. OCHA press releases are available on http://www.unocha.org/rowca

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.