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Cameroon: Insecurity and underfunding severely hamper scale-up of humanitarian response

21 Nov 2018
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23 February 2018, Zamai IDP site, Mayo Tsanaga, Far North, Cameroon. Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller speaks with displaced Cameroonian women who have been recently relocated to Zamai IDP site. Credit: OCHA/Eve Sabbagh

At least 437,000 people are currently internally displaced in the South-West, North-West and in neighbouring departments due to hostilities between armed groups and security forces. Humanitarian presence and response is gradually increasing in the affected areas, with priority given to the South-West region, which is the epicentre of the displacement crisis with 246,000 internally displaced people.

The number of families forced to flee their villages - or the country - in search of safer areas continues to increase, leaving people in dire need of humanitarian and protection assistance. This crisis is taking place against a backdrop of several other humanitarian emergencies affecting 3.3 million people across Cameroon.

However, limited access due to insecurity and a lack of funding remain impediments to the scale-up of humanitarian programming.

A special three-month response plan, launched at the end of May to address the urgent needs of 160,000 vulnerable people in the South-West and North-West, requested US $15 million in funding. To date, only a $5 million rapid response grant from the Central Emergency Response Fund has been received. The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Cameroon seeking $320 million is also underfunded at less than 37 per cent.

OCHA has strengthened its capacity, including on access and civil-military coordination, and other UN humanitarian agencies are establishing a presence in the two regions primarily responding through NGOs in the affected areas. But if funding is not received, humanitairna partners won't be able to scale up their response activities.

“This is an area that needs greater attention, including from donors", warned DERC Mueller during her visit to Cameroon last February. "Security and access are major challenges, but the lack of funding remains, by far, the main impediment to humanitarian aid reaching those most in need.”