Cameroon is affected by three simultaneous protection crises that are exacerbating the humanitarian situation of affected people. Increased violence in the Lake Chad Basin and in the North-West and South-West regions continues to cause internal displacement. Moreover, hundreds of refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) have found shelter in the eastern regions of Cameroon and rely on life-saving and life-sustaining humanitarian assistance. Cameroon’s structural development deficits and the chronic poverty of vulnerable people are compounded and further challenge the long-term recovery of affected people.
The United Nations and partner non-governmental organizations aim to provide critical support to 3 million of the most vulnerable people among a total of 4.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Cameroon in early March 2020, the Ministry of Health has reported a total of 64,809 cases, including 939 deaths and 57,821 recoveries as of 13 April 2021. The case fatality rate is 1.4 per cent.
After Nigeria, Cameroon is the country that is most affected by the Lake Chad Basin conflict, in terms of population displacements and insecurity related to attacks by non-State armed groups. As of March 2021, the conflict has led to the internal displacement of some 322,000 people. There are also 114,000 returnees and 124,000 Nigerian refugees in the Far North region due to the conflict.
The eastern regions are home to more than 300,000 refugees from CAR, dispersed over hundreds of sites and villages, mostly in the East, Adamawa and North regions. Despite the generosity of Cameroonian people and authorities, and the support they provide to refugees, the presence of refugees exerts significant pressure on the country’s scarce natural resources and basic social services, especially in host areas, and exacerbates pre-existing vulnerabilities. The CAR presidential election in December 2020 generated hostilities and led to the flight of Central Africans who sought safety and security in Cameroon. As of 3 March 2021, 6,692 Central African individuals had arrived in Cameroon fleeing election-related violence, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
In November 2017, a sociopolitical crisis in the North-West and South-West regions provoked violent incidents and recurrent reports of human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and destruction of property. The prolonged crisis, violence and related displacement increased the severity of humanitarian needs. As of February 2021, the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions had caused the internal displacement of more than 1.1 million people.
The North-West and South-West regions have been subject to continuous attacks against civilians and children, properties and basic services facilities, including health centres and schools, along with repeated security incidents against humanitarian workers, medical personnel and teachers.
Since 2015, humanitarian organizations have been jointly working with the Government to scale up the response in Cameroon. OCHA supports more than 170 humanitarian organizations that are providing emergency assistance to crisis-affected people. OCHA has its main office in Yaounde in the Centre region, along with sub-offices in Buea in the South-West, Bamenda in the North-West and Maroua in the Far North, as well as a satellite office in Kousseri in the Far North region.
In 2020, only 50 per cent of the required funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan in Cameroon was secured, notwithstanding the additional vulnerabilities created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite growing needs, funding is either stagnant or declining, leaving millions of people without critical humanitarian assistance and protection, and exacerbating vulnerabilities and violence.
At a moment in which the situation of people in Cameroon is increasingly deteriorating and reaching its most critical levels, the support of the international community is vital to alleviate the suffering and save lives. For 2021, the Humanitarian Response Plan requires US$362 million. The main focus of the humanitarian response operation will continue to be providing life-saving assistance and protection to affected populations, promoting long-term voluntary and safe durable solutions when relevant and feasible, and strengthening early recovery and community resilience.