Cameroon faces humanitarian crises in eight of its ten regions. The number of people in need of urgent assistance drastically increased from 3.9 million in early 2020 to 6.2 million since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an additional 2.3 million people in comparison to the situation before the COVID-19 outbreak. United Nations and partner NGOs aim to provide life-saving assistance to 3.4 million people among the most vulnerable.
Cameroon is affected by four concurrent, complex humanitarian situations: Boko Haram violence in the Far North region; growing humanitarian needs resulting from hostilities in the North-West and South-West regions, with spillover effects in the West and Littoral regions; consequences of the influx of refugees from the Central African Republic into the eastern regions (Adamawa, North and East) and the COVID-19 outbreak affecting the entire territory of Cameroon. Humanitarian needs are compounded by structural development deficits and chronic vulnerabilities that further challenge the long-term recovery of affected people.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in Cameroon on 5 March 2020, the delivery of humanitarian assistance has become more challenging. At the same time, the pandemic has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities in congested refugees’ and displaced persons’ sites with a weak health and sanitation infrastructure. The closure of borders for material and humanitarian organizations during several weeks has affected the possibilities of providing humanitarian assistance.
Cameroon is the second most-affected country in the Lake Chad Basin by the Boko Haram-related armed conflict in the Far North region. As of August 2020, there are more than 320,000 internally displaced persons, 123,489 returnees and 114,068 Nigerian refugees affected by the conflict in the Far North region.
As of August 2020, the East and Adamaoua regions are home to more than 185,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. The influx of refugees exerts significant pressure on natural resources and basic social services in host areas and exacerbates pre-existing vulnerabilities. New refugees have arrived in July 2020 because of ongoing fighting in the Central African Republic.
In November 2017, a sociopolitical crisis in the North-West and South-West regions turned into a situation of violence, with increasing reports of human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, destruction of property and rising humanitarian needs. As of August 2020, almost 670,000 Cameroonians are internally displaced due to this crisis. An additional 58,000 persons have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.
The North-West and South-West regions have been subject to a resurgence of attacks against persons, properties and public infrastructures, including health centres and schools, along with repeated incidents against humanitarian workers and medical personnel.
Since 2015, humanitarian actors have been working in support of the Government to robustly scale up the response in Cameroon. OCHA is supporting more than 140 humanitarian partners in providing emergency assistance in the crisis-affected regions. Since 2018, OCHA has enlarged its presence, with sub-offices in Buea (South West) and in Bamenda (North West), in addition to its head office in Yaounde (Centre region), its sub-office in Maroua and a satellite office in Kousseri, both in the Far North region.
In 2019, the humanitarian response in Cameroon was the least funded in Africa (only 43 per cent of the requested amount was funded). This acute underfunding of humanitarian response is leaving millions of people without vital humanitarian assistance and protection, reinforcing the cycle of vulnerability and violence. For 2020, the humanitarian response plan required US$391 million. It prioritizes life-saving assistance and protection while addressing the root of the conflicts and looking towards lasting solutions that promote recovery and resilience. As of 1 September, $290 million is still required.