OVERVIEW OF THE CRISIS
Cameroon is experiencing the impact of three distinct, complex humanitarian crises fuelled primarily by violence and insecurity. More than one in six people in Cameroon need humanitarian assistance, an increase of 31 per cent since 2018.
Today, eight out of ten regions in Cameroon are being impacted by three humanitarian and protection emergencies affecting the country, marking a sharp deterioration of the situation. More than one million people are living as refugees or IDPs, twice as much as one year ago, making Cameroon one of the fastest growing displacement crisis in Africa in 2018. 3 million people are food insecure. 222,000 children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition, including 60,000 with severe acute malnutrition. Over 1.5 million people are in need of emergency health assistance.
The situation in the North-West and South-West is of particular concern where insecurity and attacks against civilians have forced over 437,000 people to flee across four regions, which now host 40 per cent of the total displaced population in Cameroon. In a context of insecurity, characterized by a climate of ‘terror’, the protection of civilians is particularly at risk.
Children, and their basic right to education, are particularly vulnerable as a result of the ‘no school’ policy pursued by separatists non-state armed groups. 80 per cent of children are deprived of education, and only one in four completed the 2017- 2018 school year in the South-West. The ongoing conflict also continues to negatively impact access to basic health services. Out of 18 health districts in the North-West and South-West regions, 16 are considered unsafe for health personal and 40 per cent of health facilities are no longer functional. More than 70 per cent of the population identified agriculture as the main source of livelihoods before the crisis, making a high dependence on external assistance inevitable in the short term.
In the Lake Chad Basin, Cameroon is the second most affected country by the Boko Haram crisis. More than 50 per cent of people living in the Far North (1.9 million) need humanitarian assistance. The security situation in this region continues to deteriorate with an upsurge of violence reported in the last quarter of 2018. 445 civilians lost their lives in the conflict in 2018, a dramatic increase compared to the 281 casualties of 2017. The resurgence of violence has led to additional displacements, especially in the second half of the year, with the number of IDPs, returnees and refugees out of camps increasing on average by 7 per cent. Newly displaced people in the Far North (both IDPs and Nigerian refugees) are highly vulnerable given the loss of property, limited access to services and general mistrust and stigmatization by community members on suspicion of collaboration and affiliation with non-state armed groups.
With half of the population under the age of 18 and poverty rates of 74 per cent, young people are more vulnerable and exposed to recruitment by non-state armed groups and other grave child rights violations.
Cameroon is home to the largest number of Central African refugees, with 252,000 refugees, in the East and Adamaoua. Over 70 per cent of refugees live in host communities. With already high levels of poverty in the region (Adamaoua, 41.7 per cent, and East, 30 per cent), the influx of CAR refugees has overstretched already limited basic services. Only 43 per cent of refugee girls attend school (compared to 67 per cent for refugee boys). Given the protracted nature of displacement – with most refugees arriving in 2014/2015 – investing in long-term, durable solutions for displaced people and sustainable development for the displaced as well as host communities will be essential.