The humanitarian situation is getting increasingly more fragile in Cameroon. The country hosts around 336 000 refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR). Since 2017, another crisis affects the anglophone Northwest and Southwest Cameroon regions, where 160 000 people have been internally displaced by violence and insecurity. Host communities are also affected by those crises when sharing already scarce resources and basic social services with forcibly displaced populations.
Cameroon is affected by a triple humanitarian crisis. Armed conflict in Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) has resulted in a massive influx of refugees into already chronically vulnerable regions. In the Far North Cameroon region, Minawao refugee camp currently hosts over 48 000 Nigerian refugees. Some 23 000 have been registered outsidethe camp while an estimated additional 21 000 remain unregistered. Meanwhile, the total number of CAR refugees in the East Cameroon region currently stands at 256 000 people. Surveys show that refugees intend to stay in Cameroon as long as instability remains in their home country. Most refugees do not have any income as lack of funding has not enabled large-scale interventions to help them get sustainable livelihoods. Seventy percent of refugees live among local communities, thereby increasing the pressure on access to basic services, such as health care or education, and local resources, such as firewood, water or land.
In May 2018, an estimated 1.9 million people were at risk of food insecurity, 1.2 million of them are located in the Far North Cameroon region. The number of severely food insecure people in this region is estimated at 175 000.
Since 2013, the EU has allocated a total of €98.7 million in humanitarian assistance to Cameroon. In the last two years, the European Union's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) has substantially increased its support to respond to the growing needs. In 2017, €20 million was allocated to provide life-saving assistance in the Far North Cameroon region and in East Cameroon region. In 2018, the EU’s humanitarian aid amounts to €16.4 million.
The funds support the humanitarian response to refugees from Nigeria and Central African Republic, but also internally displaced people in the Far North Cameroon region and vulnerable host communities. Shelter, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, primary health care, livelihoods support, protection and emergency education are the main focus areas. Acute food insecurity and undernutrition of the most vulnerable people is also addressed.
Humanitarian assistance to refugees remains crucial, but given the protracted nature of the displacement, aid should also focus on improving their livelihoods and self-reliance, reducing dependence on humanitarian aid and the possibility of tensions with local communities. In parallel, properly linking humanitarian assistance to development actions is of paramount importance in order to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations, particularly in the East Cameroon region. The European Union also funds the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in the Far North of Cameroon, the region hosting the largest number of internally displaced people, so as to facilitate humanitarian organisations’ access to people in need.