The humanitarian crisis in Cameroon has expanded from four regions in 2017 to eight in 2019; and the situation of conflict-affected children in the South-West, North-West and Far North regions has worsened. Villages, schools and health facilities are under attack. In the South-West/North-West, 9 in 10 children have been out of school for three years. Between 23 and 65 per cent of hospitals are not functioning in these regions, and in some areas, only 6 per cent of women are giving birth in health centres. Insecurity has disrupted vaccination activities and primary health care services, placing children at higher risk. Humanitarian access is limited by parties to the conflict, the remoteness of populations in hiding in rural locations and frequent lock-downs across towns and cities by non-state armed groups. Internally displaced people are facing high poverty levels with few prospects for short-term return. The North and Far North regions continued to report new cholera cases in 2019, with over 88 deaths. Rising insecurity threatens communities, children and humanitarian workers. The needs of 266,000 Central African refugees are overburdening health services, schools and water systems. Projections for voluntary return are low and demographic pressures are jeopardizing social cohesion.
In 2020, UNICEF will prioritize 1) strengthening the quality and coverage of gender-sensitive humanitarian response for children; 2) strengthening child protection capacities; 3) supporting joint government/inter-agency contingency planning and rapid response for new emergencies (including for vaccine-preventable and communicable diseases); and 4) conducting advocacy on the impact of conflict on children. The response will emphasize systems strengthening, and linking humanitarian action, development and peacebuilding in local contexts. Life-saving gender-sensitive services will be undertaken for displaced, refugee and host community children to mitigate acute needs and enhance resilience. Gender-based violence in emergencies will be addressed through preventive interventions and inter-agency referral mechanisms. In the South-West/North-West, UNICEF will continue to develop a coherent emergency education response sensitive to the need for safe learning environments, while reinforcing implementing partner capacities. Rapid Response Mechanism approaches will be expanded with partners.6 Security risk management capacities will be strengthened along with third-party monitoring to improve accountability and programme quality. UNICEF will fulfill its coordination commitments, including cluster coordination for the South-West/North-West crisis. Capacities for disability-inclusive and cash-based approaches will be improved through programme quality and partnerships. Community engagement and accountability to affected populations will be strengthened along with the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.