Cameroon has an increasingly complex humanitarian situation. Since 2017, tensions in the Northwest and Southwest regions have escalated. Violence and insecurity have uprooted thousands of people. Cameroon hosts more than 447,000 refugees and asylum seekers.
These 3 crises have had an impact on host communities, who have had to share their already scarce resources and strained basic services with the new arrivals. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased humanitarian needs and further strained an already fragile health system.
In the Northwest and Southwest regions, political tensions have turned into violent clashes and a full-blown humanitarian crisis. The conflict has driven more than 711,000 people out of their homes within Cameroon and over 66,000 Cameroonians have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria. The spillover of this crisis affects the neighboring West and Littoral regions in Cameroon.
4.4 million people in Cameroon require humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian access remains a major challenge due to administrative hurdles, insecurity by armed actors, damaged road infrastructure, and COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Since 2013, sectarian violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has resulted in a massive influx of refugees in Cameroon’s East region, already chronically vulnerable. There are currently 321,000 CAR refugees in Cameroon, including about 6,700 new arrivals who fled post-electoral violence. Most of them live among local communities, adding pressure on access to basic services and local resources. The conflict in northeast Nigeria still affects Cameroon’s far North region, with killings of civilians, villages randomly looted or burnt, cattle stolen, and kidnappings. Cameroon hosts nearly 124,000 Nigerian refugees. Over 322,000 Cameroonians have fled the region. Farmers are insecure, families are at risk of food shortages, and healthcare services are reduced to a minimum. On top of insecurity, the far North region is prone to climate hazards, such as drought, floods and disease outbreaks, like cholera and measles.
In 2021, the EU has allocated €21.5 million in humanitarian assistance to Cameroon. Part of this funding is addressing food insecurity in the country. In recent years, the EU has substantially increased its support to respond to the growing needs and increasing complexity of the humanitarian situation in the country.
Since 2013, the European Union has allocated €157.5 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.
The aim is to help in reducing refugees’ dependence on humanitarian aid. This would also counter any potential tensions that may arise with local host communities that have to share their resources.
Importance is given to linking immediate humanitarian assistance to longer-term development actions. 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 the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in the Far North Region of Cameroon to facilitate humanitarian organisations’ access to people in need.