Cameroon is affected by 3 simultaneous and complex humanitarian crises: (i) in the country’s Far North (close to Lake Chad and Nigeria), (ii) in the Northwest and Southwest regions (where armed groups are fighting the government), and (iii) in the neighbouring Central African Republic.
Violence and insecurity have uprooted thousands of people. Cameroon now hosts over 502 000 refugees and asylum seekers.
All 3 humanitarian emergencies also affect host communities, which share their already scarce resources and strained basic services with those who are displaced. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased humanitarian needs and strained an already fragile health system.
What are the needs?
While 3.9 million people needed humanitarian assistance in 2022, a higher number (4.7 million) may need it this year, according to the draft 2023 Humanitarian Need Overview.
Humanitarian access remains a major challenge due to administrative hurdles, insecurity brought about by armed actors, damaged road infrastructures, and COVID-19 mitigation measures.
In the Northwest and Southwest regions, political tensions have turned into violent clashes and a full-blown humanitarian crisis. The conflict has driven over 366,000 people out of their homes within Cameroon and almost 80,000 Cameroonians have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria. The spillover from this crisis affects the neighbouring West and Littoral regions in Cameroon.
Since 2013, sectarian violence in the Central African Republic has resulted in a massive influx of refugees in Cameroon’s East region, already chronically vulnerable. There are currently around 353,000 Central African refugees in Cameroon. Most of them live in local communities, adding pressure on access to basic services and local resources.
The conflict in northeast Nigeria still affects Cameroon’s Far North region, with killings of civilians, villages being randomly looted or burnt, cattle being stolen and kidnappings. Cameroon hosts over 138,000 Nigerian refugees.
Around 378,000 Cameroonians have fled their homes in the region. Farmers are insecure, families are at risk of food shortages, women and girls are exposed to sexual and gender-based violence and healthcare services are reduced to a minimum.
Additionally, the Far North region is prone to climate hazards, such as drought, floods, and disease outbreaks, like cholera, measles, and mpox. End 2021, inter-communal clashes, over scarce water and land resources led to the displacement of over 70,000 people, including 35,000 who sought refuge in Chad.
How are we helping?
In 2023, the EU has allocated €17 million in humanitarian aid to support the most vulnerable in the country.
Since 2013, the EU has allocated €230 million in humanitarian aid to the country. EU-funded actions in Cameroon support:
- refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic
- uprooted Cameroonians who found refuge elsewhere in the country
- host communities in the Far North, Southwest and Northwest regions and the neighbouring West and Littoral regions.
Last year, the EU allocated €29.95 million in humanitarian assistance to Cameroon. This included an indicative amount of €6.5 million from the European Development Fund to address the food crisis following Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Moreover, the food situation has significantly deteriorated in the Far North. This, combined with the persistence of conflict and the adverse impact of natural hazards and epidemics, is sapping the ability of the most vulnerable people to cater for their basic needs.
Some €2 million of the total EU humanitarian funding will be allocated for food; water, sanitation and hygiene; health; nutrition; and shelter needs in this region.
This new funding will complement the 300,000 € already secured for the flood response in the same region. Around 70,000 people were displaced and over 48,000 hectares of farmland destroyed in the recent floods.
In recent years, the EU has substantially increased its support to respond to the growing needs and increasing complexity of the humanitarian situation in the country.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Cameroon are adopting measures to help beneficiaries and staff keep safe. They also continue to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable communities.
Actions focusing on the health sector and providing access to clean water and sanitation are helping to address the new needs brought about by COVID-19, in line with the country’s response plan.
The EU also provided funding to support the actions of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the country on early detection and response, and on having adequate expertise on the ground. The EU’s funding to WHO also includes support for the vaccination against COVID-19.
Immediate humanitarian assistance to refugees remains crucial, especially to newly displaced people. However, given the protracted nature of the displacement (especially of Central African refugees), aid efforts are also being directed at improving their livelihoods, self-reliance and to supporting them with durable solutions.
The aim is to help in reducing refugees’ dependence on humanitarian aid. This would also counter any potential tensions that may arise with local host communities sharing their resources.
Importance is given to linking immediate humanitarian assistance to longer-term development actions including other EU aid mechanisms. This includes support to the education and health systems or to vulnerable rural communities to strengthen their resilience, particularly in the northern and eastern part of Cameroon.
The European Union also funds flights of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in the Far North, Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon, for humanitarian organisations to have access to remote people in need.
Last updated: 23/01/2023
Facts & figures
976,000 internally displaced people in the country (OCHA)
Hosting around 503,000 refugees, mostly from Nigeria and the Central African Republic (UNHCR, October 2022)
EU humanitarian funding:
€17 million in 2023
€230 million since 2013