UNHCR & WFP Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) Central African refugees (CAR) and host population living in the East, Adamawa, North Regions of Cameroon (Primary data collected from 21 to 31 January 2019)
Cameroon is facing a multifaceted increasingly complex humanitarian crisis. In addition to preexisting chronic food insecurity and malnutrition challenges resulting from recurrent climatic shocks and food production deficits, spill over conflict from both Nigeria and Central African Republic (CAR) have resulted in large scale displacements across borders as well as within the country. Cameroon has experienced large inflows of CAR refugees since 2004, making it the largest recipient of new arrivals since 2016. The arrival of CAR refugees is driven by very high levels of food insecurity in and continued violence in their country of origin. As of the end of April 2019, more than 279,000 CAR citizens have been seeking refuge in Cameroon and are dispersed around more than 100 sites and villages in the East (180,000 individuals), Adamawa (71,500 individuals), North (7,200 individuals) as well as urban areas of Yaoundé and Douala (with 9,500 and 7,600 individuals respectively). Of the total, 30 percent are settled across 7 refugee sites (Borgop, Ngam, Ngarissingo, Lolo, Mbile, Timangolo and Gado) and 70 percent among host and local communities.
The three regions hosting refugees are also characterized by infrastructural weaknesses with little investment in basic socio-economic infrastructure. The presence of refugees constitutes a strong pressure on the limited resources available and a risk of weakening peaceful coexistence between refugees and the local population. Nevertheless, Cameroon offers a favorable legal environment for protection through the ratification of international legal instruments relating to the status of refugees and the domestication of these conventions in Law No. 2005/006 of 27 July 2001 5. CAR refugees therefore enjoy prima facie status, although the law is not entirely applied. For example, refugees do not yet hold a national identity card for state refugees. The right to free movement is also not guaranteed and there are certain limitations that expose refugees to detention risks. Other rights are guaranteed but refugees cannot fully benefit for financial reasons such as the right to education and health. Women and children also face specific protection risks, including early marriage, exploitation, abuse and physical violence. (JAM Secondary Data Analysis Report, December 2018)
Most refugees face insufficient access to basic services, including food, shelter, water, sanitation, health and education. Simultaneously, the basic services in host communities are not capable of accommodating the large number of refugees.
A previous Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) was conducted in 2016, which identified some opportunities to improve humanitarian assistance to refugees (Refer to Annex 6). Since then, several of the recommendations have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented. Meanwhile, both UNHCR and WFP have developed multi-year country strategies and plans involving new or expanded approaches, and several operational adjustments have been required. Based on our Global Memorandum of Understanding, UNHCR and WFP develop joint action plans to guide their operational collaboration.
Given the changes and developments, it was agreed to review the situation and provide recommendations for joint programming over the next 18-24 months.
Some of the main operational changes since 2016 are:
WFP has increased its cash-based interventions for food assistance through value vouchers;
WFP commenced Food Assistance for Assets projects for vulnerable host communities and refugees;
Due to resource constraints, rations were reduced since end of 2016, currently at around 70 percent of the initial ration. Further resource constraints required a prioritization of assistance, and therefore a joint targeting strategy was developed and implemented in 2018 (UNHCR/WFP), reducing the numbers of refugees receiving WFP food assistance to some 125’000 refugees in 2018 and 2019 (This includes GFD and Livelihood activities)
To ensure more refugees were provided with assistance to help meet their basic needs,
UNHCR developed, in line with the national social safety net, an unrestricted cash transfer Programme using mobile money for 10,000 refugees in 2018.
UNHCR’s livelihoods strategy and increased support to livelihoods and resilience programming by both agencies;
UNHCR providing on-going protection (registration, case management, community-based protection/monitoring, resettlement) assistance in terms of support to the provision of basic services and support to the government on the inclusion of refugees in national systems including health and education.