By Eric Tataw – Tuesday March 26, 2019.
The Spokesperson of United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Babar Baloch said at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Tuesday March 26, 2019, that there’s need for donors to step up support for displaced Cameroonians.
According to the press conference that was closely followed by National Telegraph’s Beltha Mokube, Babar Baloch said while urging donors to support, there are over half a million displaced Cameroonians who have survived over a year of ongoing violence in different parts of the country.
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. And there are fears now that more people will become displaced over the coming months, Babar said.
UN says there are more than 437,000 people currently displaced in Cameroon, 246,000 of them in the South West Region, 105,000 in the North West Region, and 86,000 in the Littoral and West Regions but, other organs are locals put the figures far above UN’s.
According to a report from UNHCR, most of these displaced persons are women and children. And people who become displaced face grave situations whether in Cameroon or Nigeria. Having fled with very little, they are arriving in impoverished host communities where food supplies are strained and with few facilities for health, education, water and sanitation, the report says.
The UNHCR report further says that apart from causing internal displacement in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, the deadly conflict has also forced over 35,000 Cameroonians to seek asylum in Nigeria. With the fighting continuing, this number is expected to rise.
UNHCR now requires US$184 million for its operations in Cameroon and Nigeria – including US$35.4 million needed urgently for critical life-saving assistance, parts of the report suggests.
According to the report, in February, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon launched the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) that includes the situation in the South and North West regions. UNHCR activities and related funding requirements for this program in Cameroon are part of the HRP. UNHCR advocates for international support to the plan.
Inside Cameroon, many of the displaced in the Southwest and Northwest Regions are living in overcrowded conditions, without proper shelter or health and sanitation support, says the report.
Going further, UNHCR says; underfunding and insecurity have restricted protection and assistance activities to affected populations. The safety of women, children, unaccompanied and separated minors, people with disabilities, and lactating and pregnant women are of deep concern to us in light of increased protection incidents and the severe underfunding.
The most frequently reported security incidents include destruction of homes and other domestic properties, extortion, torture and inhumane treatment including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation, it added.
In Nigeria, refugees are currently being hosted in settlements, and more than 47 villages along the border. There is significant pressure on existing social services, and facilities for health and education. Refugees in settlements are depending on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.
Unrest in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of the North West and South West began in October 2016 as a disagreement in language but government mismanaged it, turning it into a demand by majority of Anglophones for a separate state called Ambazonia. Gun battles have ensued and the government has been accused of numerous Human Rights violation, including targeted killings.