The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has started up in Cameroon to help support the many displaced families.
“Cameroon is affected by a triple crisis; The conflicts in neighbouring Central African Republic and Nigeria have forced a large number of people to seek protection in Cameroon. At the same time the conflict in Nigeria is spilling over, forcing people inside Cameroon to flee their homes. On top of this, a devastating food crisis is affecting parts of the country,” said Sylvain Charmoy, Acting Country Director for NRC.
The country is currently housing 325,000 refugees. In addition, 228,000 people from Cameroon are displaced within their own country, according UN figures. In total, 1.6 million people in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance.
In July, NRC did a first aid distribution to some of the displaced families in the Far North region.
“Some families have arrived in the settlements for displaced people with nothing. We gave them plastic sheeting and rope, so that they can set up some kind of shelter,” said Philippe Douryang, Emergency Team leader.
In addition, NRC has distributed hygiene kits, mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats and tools for farming.
This initial distributions took place in Logone-and-Chari department in the Far North, close to Lake Chad and the Nigerian border. Roadside bombs, suicide attacks and raids on villages in the region cause insecurity, both for the civilians and for humanitarians trying to reach out with basic assistance.
“Because of insecurity in the area, people are fleeing and returning, fleeing and returning. For three years now, few people have been able to farm in this part of the country. Now the area is affected by severe lack of food,” said Douryang.
“Most people in the host community have also been unable to farm, but they have received some food assistance. Now the displaced people are cutting and collecting wood, which they sell to the host community in return for something to eat,” he added.
He is deeply worried by what he has witnessed in the area, and stresses the need for more assistance.
“It is hard to get assistance into these areas, and the upcoming rainy season will complicate things further, making some of the roads impassable. Still, we cannot avoid responding to the needs,” said Douryang.
Need for funding
Funding from private donors has enabled NRC to start up in Cameroon, a country which is often neglected by the international community. In addition, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has financed the recent emergency distribution.
UN and humanitarian partners have appealed for about $ 300 million to cover basic humanitarian needs in Cameroon in 2017. Still, more than halfway into the year, only 25 per cent of the funding needed has been covered.
“Lives that could have been saved, will be lost, unless there is a substantial increase in the funds to help people affected by hunger and displacement in the Far North,” said Sylvain Charmoy.
- NRC is starting up a humanitarian response in Cameroon, and has sent an emergency team to northern parts of the country where the needs are high.
- The first distribution took place in the sultanate of Afadé, district of Makary in the department of Logone-and-Chari, northeast in Cameroon.
- In total, 900 displaced families from seven different settlements in Afadé received assistance, including plastic sheeting, rope, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats and tools for farming.
- The emergency distribution was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
- NRC is already present in neighbouring Central African Republic and Nigeria.