The humanitarian situation is increasingly fragile in Cameroon. The country hosts around 350 000 refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR). Since 2017, another crisis has been hitting the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions, where 437 000 people have become internally displaced because of violence and insecurity. These crises also have an impact on host communities who have to share their already scarce resources and basic social services with the new arrivals.
Cameroon is afflicted by a humanitarian crisis on three fronts. The armed conflict in Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) has resulted in a massive influx of refugees into regions that were already chronically vulnerable. In the Far North Region, the Minawao camp currently hosts around 55 000 Nigerian refugees. Furthermore, it is estimated that there are around 45 000 additional refugees outside the Minawao camp itself. Biometric registration of these out-of-camp refugees started in November 2018. Meanwhile, the total number of CAR refugees in the East Region in Cameroon currently stands at 250 000 people. Surveys show that refugees intend to stay in Cameroon as long as their home country remains marred by instability. Seventy percent of the refugees live among local communities, thereby increasing the pressure on access to basic services, such as healthcare 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 in Cameroon, 1.2 million of whom are located in the Far North Region. The number of severely food insecure people in this region is an estimated 175 000. In June 2018, there were 211 000 people registered as severely malnourished in the Southwest and Northwest regions.
Since 2013, the European Union has allocated a total of €101.7 million in humanitarian assistance to Cameroon. In the last years, the European Union's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) has substantially increased its support to respond to the growing needs and increasing complexity of the humanitarian situation. In 2018, the EU’s humanitarian aid to the country amounted to €19.4 million.
The funds support the humanitarian response to the needs of refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR), internally displaced people and host communities in the Far North, as well as in the Southwest and Northwest regions. Food, safe drinking water and sanitation, primary healthcare, shelter, livelihoods support, protection, and education are the main areas of focus.
Humanitarian assistance to refugees remains crucial, but given the protracted nature of the displacement, particularly of refugees from the CAR, aid should also focus on improving their livelihoods and self-reliance, reducing dependence on humanitarian aid and the possibility of tensions with local communities. At the same time, it is of paramount importance to link immediate humanitarian assistance to longer-term development actions, such as long-term support to the education and health systems, or rural development, to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations, particularly in eastern Cameroon.
The European Union also funds the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in the Far North Region of Cameroon to facilitate humanitarian organisations’ access to people in need.