Cameroon is affected by 3 simultaneous humanitarian crises in the country’s far North (near Lake Chad and Nigeria), in the Northwest and Southwest regions, as well as in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR). Violence and insecurity have uprooted thousands of people. Cameroon now hosts more than 447,000 refugees and asylum seekers.
All 3 humanitarian emergencies also affect host communities, who share their already scarce resources with those displaced. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased humanitarian needs and strained an already fragile health system.
In Cameroon, 4.4 million people require humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian access is a major challenge due to administrative hurdles, insecurity by armed actors, damaged road infrastructure, and COVID-19 measures.
In the Northwest and Southwest regions, political tensions led to violence and a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Over 711,000 people are internally displaced and over 66,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria. The spillover of this crisis affects the Cameroon West and Littoral regions.
Since 2013, sectarian violence in the CAR has resulted in a massive influx of refugees in Cameroon’s East region, already chronically vulnerable. There are currently 331,000 CAR refugees in Cameroon, including about 6,700 new arrivals fleeing post-electoral violence at the end of 2020. Most of the refugees live among local communities, adding pressure on basic services and local resources.
The conflict in northeast Nigeria affects Cameroon’s Far North, with killings, villages randomly looted or burnt, and kidnappings. Cameroon hosts nearly 124,000 Nigerian refugees. Over 322,000 Cameroonians have fled their homes in the Far North. Farmers are insecure, families are at risk of food shortages, women and girls are exposed to sexual and gender-based violence. Healthcare is reduced to a minimum. The region is also prone to climate hazards and disease outbreaks (cholera, measles.)
In 2021, the EU allocated €21.5 million in humanitarian assistance to Cameroon. Part of this funding is used to address food insecurity in the country. In recent years, the EU has substantially increased its response to the growing needs and increasing complexity of the humanitarian situation in the country.
Since 2013, the European Union has allocated €161.5 million in humanitarian aid to the country. EU-funded actions in Cameroon support:
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Cameroon are adopting measures to help beneficiaries and staff keep safe. They also continue to provide life-saving assistance to support vulnerable communities.
Actions already focusing on the health sector and providing access to clean water and sanitation are helping, taking into account the new needs brought about by COVID-19, in line with the country’s response plan.
The EU also contributed funding in support of the WHO’s actions in the country on early detection and response, and on having adequate expertise on the ground.
Immediate humanitarian assistance to refugees remains crucial especially to newly displaced people. However, given the protracted nature of the displacement (especially of CAR refugees), aid efforts are also being directed at improving their livelihoods and self-reliance and supporting them on durable solutions. The aim is to help reduce refugees’ dependence on humanitarian aid. This would also counter any potential tensions that may arise with local host communities having to share their resources.
It is important to link immediate humanitarian assistance to longer-term development actions, including other EU aid mechanisms. This includes support to the education and health systems, or rural development to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities, particularly in the northern and eastern part of Cameroon.
The European Union also funds flights of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in the Far North, Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon, so that humanitarian organisations to have access to remote people in need.