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Cameroon: “Underfunding means we cannot do all we can to make the difference in people’s lives”

25 Jan 2019


23 February 2018, Zamai IDP site, Mayo Tsanaga, Far North, Cameroon - Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller and Resident Coordinator Allegra Baiocchi speak with IDPs in Zamai. During her visit, ASG Mueller had warned that underfunding was hampering humanitarian efforts. Credit: OCHA/Eve Sabbagh

Yesterday, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Cameroon, Ms. Allegra Baiocchi, and Cameroon’s Civil Protection Director, Ms. Yap Mariatou, warned key donor countries of the worrying developments in Cameroon and the drastic increase in humanitarian needs in the country.

“Hundreds of thousands of people on Cameroon’s territory need urgent assistance and protection,” Ms. Baiocchi said, presenting, in coordination with Cameroon’s government, the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019. “Attacks against civilians have increased and many conflict-affected people are surviving in harsh conditions without humanitarian assistance due to the dramatic underfunding of the response,” she added.

Fatoumata is one of the over 250,000 refugees from Central African Republic that Cameroon is currently hosting. Credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau

Eight out of ten regions in Cameroon are impacted by violence, particularly in the northwest and southwest, where over 437,000 people were forced to flee.

“Cameroon today can no longer be a forgotten crisis; it needs to be high on our agenda”, stressed Ms. Baiocchi. With more than one million people displaced, twice as many as one year ago, Cameroon is one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa. The country is also hosting over 250,000 refugees from Central African Republic and 100,000 from Nigeria.

Currently, 4.3 million people need lifesaving assistance, an increase of 31 per cent from 2018.

Funding remains at an all-time low

Displaced children speak with a humanitarian worker. Credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau

In light of the huge funding gap, last year CERF stepped in and allocated US$5 million to boost humanitarian response in the South-West and North-West regions of Cameroon, where more than 160,000 people had to flee their homes in search of protection and safety due to insecurity and escalating violence. CERF had a significant impact on the response in the South-West and North-West as one of main sources of funding for the crisis. CERF funds were critical to enable humanitarian partners to provide basic life-saving services to 110,000 of the most vulnerable people, especially women and children - protection, health, water and sanitation, and food – over a period of four months.

But funding remains critically low. Last years Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was barely 40 per cent funded – leaving a 60 per cent funding gap despite the massive needs. In 2018, the HRP for Cameroon was one of the least funded plan globally.

“Humanitarian needs are likely to increase in coming years,” said Ms. Baiocchi. “Underfunding means we cannot do all we can to make a difference in the life of most vulnerable people across Cameroon, whether it is the girl who is missing school due to violence, the displaced mother struggling to feed her children, or the father who has lost his entire family.”