By Boris Esono Nwenfor (Cameroon)
Around 4.3 million Cameroonians, mostly women and children are now in need of lifesaving assistance, the UN announced while presenting its 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for the West African country in coordination with the government and aid partners.
According to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Cameroon Ms. Allegra Baiocchi, “Cameroon today can no longer be a forgotten crisis; it needs to be high on the agenda and there is a drastic increase in humanitarian need across the country”.
She said: “Hundreds of thousands of peole on Cameroon’s territory need urgent assistance and protection. Attacks on civilians have increased and many conflict-affecting people are surviving in harsh conditions without humanitarian assistance due to the dramatic underfunding of the response.
The joint Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019 seeks $299 million to assist 2.3 million vulnerable people, more than half of those in need. Last year, a $320 million response plan for Cameroon was only 40 per cent funded, UN news reported.
The aggravation of the conflict in Western regions is the main driver behind the increase with armed attacks in the Far North and new refugees coming from the Central African Republic also increasing demand for urgent aid.
Insecurity and violence in these regions have uprooted 437,000 people from their homes and forced over 32,000 to seek refuge in neighboring Nigeria. Four million people are affected by the conflict in Cameroon’s West, says the UN
According to Ms. Baiocchi, “humanitarian needs are likely to increase in the coming years”. “underfunding means we cannot do all we can to make a difference in the life of most vulnerable people across Cameroon, whether it is the girl who is missing school due to the violence, the displaced mother struggling to feed her children, or the father who has lost his entire family”.
On her part, the Director of Civil Protection, Yap Mariatou said “The government of Cameroon is responsible for the protection and wellbeing of its people and has been at the forefront of the response with its national and international partners”.
“We acknowledge the scale of the different crisis we face, and we encourage all the actors to work in close partnership to address the needs of Cameroonians and the people we host”.
Due to the deteriorating situation in Northeast Nigeria, more than 10,000 new refugees arrived in Cameroon in 2018 bringing the number of Nigerian refugees to 100,000.