UN FINALLY DECLARES AND SETS OUT A RAPID HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY RESPONSE AGENDA FOR AMBAZONIA
by Mbiydzenyuy Dave WANTANGWA
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has finally declared an emergency on the NW and SW zones of Ambazonia. According to the Service (UNOCHA), “The crisis in the South-West and North-West Regions of Cameroon has compounded pre-existing vulnerabilities. Since 2016, political and social instability, exacerbated by sporadic violence, has had a negative impact on the civilian population of Cameroon’s South-West and North-West Regions, hosting four million inhabitants (16% of the total population). In November 2017, the socio-political crisis progressively translated into insecurity and armed violence. Since then, the escalation of tension and upsurge in hostilities between non-state armed groups and defence and security forces have triggered humanitarian needs across the two regions, linked to significant internal displacement. In recent months, the epicentre of the crisis moved from Bamenda (North-West) to Mamfe and Kumba (South-West). All divisions in the South-West region, host to more than 1.4 million inhabitants, are affected by the crisis. The number of households forced to flee their villages – or the country – in search of safer areas has rapidly and steadily increased since November 2017. Recent needs assessments report that at least 160,000 people have been internally displaced in the two affected regions and would need humanitarian and protection assistance over the next three months. In addition, more than 21,000 Cameroonians have been registered as refugees in Cross River, Benue and Akwa Ibom States in Nigeria”.
According to the assessment report, the crisis has affected 160.000 people without counting those who found refuge in Nigeria, and the UN further places as target, these 160.000 IDPs spread across the following areas, namely:
“135,000 are located in Meme Division and 15,000 in Manyu Division. The remaining 10,000 are displaced in the North-West Region. Simultaneously, dozens of villages in Mbongue and Konye Subdivision (Meme Division) have been emptied of their populations. The situation is similar in the North- West, especially in Boyo Division. Many villages have suffered significant material damage in Mbongue and Konye Subdivision (Meme Division), and in Eyumodjok and Akwaya Subdivision (Manyu Division). “
Needless to mention that the intransigence of the LRC government in genuinely resolving the crisis amidst a series of elections this year, gives reason to predict that the situation will continue to escalate in the coming months. Of the 160.000 people, the various divisions have been estimated to have the following figures: Meme – 135.000, Manyu – 15.000, Boyo – 3.000, Momo – 3.000 and Ngoketunjia – 4.000.
In the absence of any dialogue or the wish to have any, the future of the crisis is foreseeably bleak. The UN again states, that
“Clashes between non-state armed groups and defense and security forces have displaced the civilian population into the surrounding forests and villages – 80% of the displaced population have found refuge in the forest. The two regions have experienced a deterioration of living conditions – primarily affecting school-age children, women and the elderly – and a collapse of livelihoods as well as heightened abuses. The crisis and subsequent displacement have prevented people from accessing their fields and markets. For most of the affected population who relied upon agriculture or livestock as their main sources of livelihoods before the crisis, dependency on external assistance will be inevitable in the short-term”.
This rapid emergency response plan will cost the UN some 15.2 million dollars.
Emergency Response Plan: Cameroon – North West and South West, OCHA, published May 28th, 2018.
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