Nearly 2 million Cameroonians face humanitarian emergency: UNICEF
A group of migrants from Cameroon. /Getty Images

A group of migrants from Cameroon. /Getty Images

The current violence in Cameroon's northwest and southwest regions has created a fast-growing humanitarian emergency now affecting some 1.9 million people, a "15-fold increase since 2017", UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.

In Geneva, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson, Marixie Mercado, explained that almost a million children were affected in the West African nation, which until a few years ago was among the most settled and peaceful in the region.

Insecurity – and to a lesser degree, extremely poor road access – have left around 65 percent of both regions inaccessible to aid workers, who have faced increased attacks and risk being taken hostage.

"What began as a political crisis in the northwest and southwest regions is now a quickly deteriorating humanitarian emergency," said Ms. Mercado, a reference to separatist clashes that began in late 2017, linked to alleged discrimination against the country's English-speaking regions.

With security worsening in rural and urban areas, particularly in the northwest, the UN humanitarian coordinating office, OCHA, insists that human rights violations continue to be committed by both separatists and Government forces.

"Arbitrary arrest, burning of villages and indiscriminate killing of civilians are conducted with impunity," it said in its latest situation report on Monday.

For a growing number of youngsters, the situation has deprived them of an education, with thousands of schools closed amid threats by separatists seeking leverage for a political solution to the crisis.

"Three years of violence and instability in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon have left more than 855,000 children out of school," said Ms. Mercado.

In all, nine in 10 primary schools – more than 4,100 – and nearly eight in 10  secondary schools (744) remain closed, or non-operational, in the troubled northwest and southwest since the start of the school year in September.

"Fear of violence has kept parents from sending their children to school and teachers and staff from reporting to work." the UNICEF official explained.

In May, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet welcomed the Government's declared openness to work with the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, to seek effective solutions to the major human rights and humanitarian crises caused by the serious unrest and violence taking place in Cameroon.

Source(s): United Nations